Sunday, my sis and I, we bailed, to see our Nana, who is way on the otherside from us, past Indianapolis. 249 miles sayz the odometer. Nana, she is 86 and rolled over in bed wrong and crunkled something badly, in her withering-boned back. She needed extra love and day time companionship while the rest of my family who normally cares for her are all at their jobs (my uncle, aunt and cousin all start their workday at 5 am, reading meters/inspecting sewers, manufacturing venetian blinds and logging with a $1600 chainsaw - respectively), so we went down to spend some time.
Yesterday, I watched my nana cry from pain and it made me want to punch things like some stupid jock because I felt so absolutely powerless. All I could do was give her her pain medicine, put a blanket on her feet and hold her winkled, miniature hand until the medicine did what I could not for her. We watched the Olympics, sat on the porch swing for hours at a go, discussed animals, babies and the weather, while smoking white-filtered cigarettes.
We talked at length about dead and living relatives who I last saw in 1979 or 1987, and their recessions in health. I do not mind this, as all the relatives have terrific, glamourous names: Geneva, Sis, Noble, Hyacinth, Zola. I am related (not sure how) to a woman named Madonna Cherry , whom (I cannot distill from stories) may or may not be alive, or dead after long incidence of complex strings of illness, but definately lived up the way .
During this same three day period, I was asked, appox. sixteen-eleven times when I am getting married and/or pregnant (no "if", just WHEN) and asked unanswerable questions like "Sooooo, your mom said your boyfriend is a rapper. What's he rap about?" . Immediately, I began flipping questions to my cousin, (who coaches deaf cheerleading for a living), and started quizzing her about how she taught her deaf dog to understand sign language , rather than attempting explaination that my genius boyfriend makes his living rhyming about, like, you know, fatherhood, blowjobs and hating the goverment.
There is little else to tell that would not take 5,000 words to explain. I can not get all Didion and explain exactly what was there by what was missing. I remember this: My cousin gave us a tour of family property and all his deer stands in varying trees and fields. This season's mowing and hay-bailing was also summerized during this time. He ran down exactly which wild animals, when eaten, do or do not taste "just like chicken." My uncle, last night, after five beers and q.t. by the bonfire he built in the yard, talked with curdled resentment towards the Department of Land Management, who, some 40 years ago, "condemmed" 530 acres of cattle ranch land belonging to the family, in order to make a state park, and how he's threatened people riding horses on the statepark land with a shotgun when they get too close to the property he still owns. These sentiments, of rightful ownership, of justice being served with guns, of the country-way being the real way -- are echoed the mind of every male member of my Indiana family.
My sister and I kept exchanging like-whoa looks from across the fire all night, as my uncle and cousin told us about thier lives: about guns, animals, freak weather, chain saw woes, crooked local cops, tresspassing, this years tomatoes vs. last year tomatoes, cars, tractors, trucks, hay, trees, mosquitos, local water rites, restoring windmills, weather vanes, transmissions, mulch, fences, working for the county, bullfrogs, normal little frogs, my dead grandpa, dumptrucks, 4H championships, the peace you can only find in a deer stand at 4 am. All people who live in the country are a kind of smart and a kind of real that you cannot purloin or borrow or possess unless you grew up there. My sister and I silently envied their steadfastness, their pride, their ability to use a bow and arrow and marvelled deeply at just how vast gulf between our lives and theirs is.
It is, at once, tranversible, and then, not at all.