My Nana said she and Mommy were best friends and they can be best friends again if Mommy will just call her and tell her she’s sorry. Mommy why won’t you call Nana?
My granddaughter had just climbed into her car seat and wasn’t buckled in yet. I could hear the breath, I knew her thoughts as if she were speaking them out loud, my daughter let the breath out slowly, fastening the car seat. She carefully fastened her in the car seat, closed the door and got into the front seat. Belted in and settled for the ride home, she took another long slow deep breath.
“Sometimes, people who appear to be your best friend, aren’t really your friend. They don’t treat you with respect.” She explained slowly, carefully metering her words, to assure rather than destroy the confidence her daughter was laying at her feet. Between each word were the memories of this same woman tolerating the beatings her son gave my daughter, taking the beating he gave her, his mother, when he took a hammer to her. The explanation came out smoothly, revealing nothing of the pain she felt, settled softly around the child and silence filled the vehicle. Nothing but the whir of the engine for a long time.
“Mommy, I had dinner. I’m supposed to tell you that. But, I’m still a little hungry. I want a hamburger or something. What’s for dinner?”
I glanced at the clock on the dash and realized it is past eight thirty. It had been a busy Sunday afternoon, lunch had been late, after church and dinner hadn’t been cooked before we left to make the drive to pick her up. So, it wasn’t ready and we hadn’t eaten. Picking up a quick something would be the best solution, but we’d mostly stopped eating fast foods several months earlier because of a diet I’d been doing. One place, a bit off our path, prepared a better selection of sandwiches, I aimed the car in that direction. After a bit of deliberation, my granddaughter decided she wanted a grilled chicken sandwich, and I ordered four more spicy chipotle chicken sandwiches and a small hamburger for the rest of us.
“Grandma, do you get a welfare check?” My granddaughter asked the question innocently, while we waited. I didn’t answer right away. It was my turn to breathe. My daughter was busy texting a message to her legal counsel and didn’t hear what she said. I waited.
When the food came out, we drove the short distance to our home in one of the nicer suburbs of Denver. I carried food and my grandson, my daughter carried more food and helped my granddaughter inside. We settled food on the counter, where my sons had washed the dishes and they had nearly finished drying. Ready to put away. I sorted sandwiches, put them on plates and cut each of the kids sandwiches in half while my daughter set the kids in their chairs at the table.
The kids ate and I went back to my desk to finish a late project, due on Monday morning. After dinner, my granddaughter found her way to my desk and reasked the question, from earlier.
“Grandma, my Daddy said you don’t work. You just sit at your computer playing games all day and you get a welfare check.” She spoke the words again.
“Well, your Daddy would be wrong. I do work. I rarely ever play games, and usually only when I’m holding you or your brother, or your cousin and playing them.”
“He said you’d lie to me.”
I invited her to join me behind my desk, on my knee and I opened the file on my computer screen. I asked her, “Do you know that lady?”
“Yes, she’s your friend that asked you to edit her book.”
“And remember that when she was here, she gave me money?”
“That money was payment for the work I’m doing on her book. And I built her website. And, I’ve been writing these articles for her. And… she pays me, like a job.”
“But, Grandma, Daddy says if you don’t go to work someplace, you’re not making money.”
“Sometimes, Daddy doesn’t know everything. Sometimes Daddies make assumptions based on their own behavior and knowledge and it’s limited to just what they know and understand, they don’t know about Grandma’s business.”
“But, my Daddy is really smart. He took me to the museum and he knows about the rocks and everything. He says the rocks are really old, older than the dinosaurs.”
“Perhaps?” I took out my Bible and I read the story of creation.
“My Daddy doesn’t believe in that,” she said. “I believe in God.”
“Well, that means your Daddy is not so smart, because there’s consequences for people who don’t believe in God. Maybe we should pray for him,” I explained in a soft voice.
“Do you think Jesus can make him believe?” She asked.
“Sweetheart, if there’s any one, any where, who can help him to believe, it will be Jesus. All you have to do is trust and believe.”