“I suspicion” — that phrase always did drive me a little bit crazy, but since it was Grandma Ellen I could afford to cut her some slack, so I suspicion it was — “there’s two types of people on God’s green earth.” She looked at me expectantly and because I’d always been dutiful in my own way, I obliged her.
“What types are those, Grandma?”
She grinned, wide and gap-toothed, and her eyes narrowed as she surveyed the front lawn. Two fingers went up, reinforcing her suspicion. “Those who go through life afraid of fucking up” (again, that grin, like the f word was so evil it merited a special smile) “and never do a thing ’cause of it, and those who fuck up royally and learn some of life’s richest lessons as a result.” She turned keen eyes on me, looked me up and down like I was on display in the window of Harris’s Department Store downtown. “I know which kind you are, child.”
I hadn’t been a bona fide child in many years. Since before I ran away, since way before I became a mama myself. Since before I found the courage to come back home. I did it for her. For Grandma, so she could meet her great-granddaughter.
She didn’t miss a beat or a chance for judgment, but I loved her no less for her honesty. “You’ve done more than your share of fucking up, Linda Sue. I guess you’ve done it enough for five or six normal girls. But you never were content to be like everyone else.” For a moment I was worried she’d bring up the business with my stepdad and the knife, but she just winked and spoke in code. Sarah was there, playing with a kitten in the grass, and even Grandma seemed to know there were some stories my baby was still too young to hear. “You always had brass ones,” she practically cackled, “and I always did admire you for it. Don’t you dare ever change. Keep on fucking up, so long as you keep on learning from it.”
From her spot on the grass, little Sarah smiled. “Brass ones, brass ones,” she sang. All I could do was laugh.
“Go big or go home, right?” It’d always been my guiding mantra. “Love you, Grandma.”
Grandma Ellen still smiled, but I caught the glint of tears in her eyes. It was all right. They were just her way of saying I love you too.