Mixed Blessings


Especially with all of the awesome superhero movies out there, there’s a lot of fun talk about, “My superpower is…”

And I have to admit, I’ve been blessed with a couple of them myself.

*  Allegory–I have the gift of naming– I won’t deny it.  Children, characters, stories, pets– I can name things.

*  Random encounters–I have the gift of running into people at odd times.  I’ve had some of the best moments with my relatives in lines for movies or stuck at the same stoplight in different cars.  I shit you not.  I’ve told you about meeting old students when standing at an intersection at two in the morning.  I once saw an old friend come in at a half-marathon when I was at the finish line waiting for my husband to come in.  Unpredictable, and most of the time only useful for feeling good about myself–but sometimes, once in a while, I have an idea it’s coming.  I couldn’t tell you WHO, but I’ll have the idea that SOMEONE I know will be where I’m going.

*  Witchiness– but only a teeny, tiny small amount of it, and only in the saddest of situations.  Maybe it’s seeing so many grandparents grow older and pass on, but for the last couple, I’ve known as I’ve left–just known.

Alas, I seem to have passed that last one down to my daughter, and the first one seems to have deserted me, but we’ll get to that.

Let’s continue.  As with all superheroes, there is an ANTI- superpower– a kryptonite to Superman’s superpowers, a heel to Achilles’ strength.  In my case it’s this:  It is impossible for me to keep a secret from someone I love.  I once went to elaborate lengths to hide my husband’s Christmas gift from him as I was getting out of the car from a shopping expedition, only to brag about how I’d managed six different places including the Sunglass Hut within 45 minutes at the mall.

Uhm, there really IS only one thing you can buy at the Sunglass Hut.  Yeah.  He wasn’t surprised.

Anyway– so there you go.  My superpower/superweakness, for your perusal.

Now, these are pretty tame superpowers by any stretch of the imagination.  They are.  It’s not X-Ray vision.  I can’t fly.  I can’t even lose weight.  I can name things and run into people without medical assistance needed– go me!

But sometimes these superpowers can lend an extra… uhm, piquancy to my already odd way of looking at things.

To wit:

I saw my last grandparent on Monday.  Yes– my last one.  It didn’t take a genius to know I was seeing my last grandmother for the last time– she rolled over, said my name, asked me if I’d been in an accident (?– she’s witchy too– I was a little freaked out about this, and in a minute, you’ll be too,) and then fell asleep.  My aunt Carol told me this was a good day– she woke up and knew me.

When I left, I said “Goodbye, I love you,”– because we’ve already discussed this, that should be all you ever have to say to someone when you leave–but I knew.  I thought I might visit on Sunday, but I was pretty sure it wasn’t going to happen.

I cried all Friday.  Yeah, I was writing a sad part of my book, but although I often tear up at sad parts, I don’t usually sob, and sob so hard I can’t see what I’m typing.  I thought, “Hormones?  Exhaustion?  The stress of saying goodbye to these characters anyway?”  There were reasons, right?

But nobody called.

So on Saturday, there I was, driving down the road in a part of town I usually do not frequent.  See, the kids and I were in North Highlands, going to gymnastics, when my husband called me and told me that he was going to Folsom with his buddies after football, and he wanted us to meet him for pizza.  For those who know the area, it’s like being asked to journey from East L.A. to Beverly Hills, except without the two hour commute.  Anyway, we get to pizza and the kids decide they want to go home with their dad.  So I was alone in the car, popping a zit in the rearview mirror (that’s embarrassing by the way–but not as embarrassing as having that thing waving to people when I get out of the car!) when I realize the woman in the passenger’s seat of the car next to me is my Aunt Barb.

So we roll down our windows and chat for the duration of the light, and then go when it turns green.  (Yeah– some of these superpowers run in families.  You may have guessed.)

So I was thinking they might try to pace me, so we could chat at the next light, but for a moment, they trailed behind.  Suddenly, they catch up with me, and tell me to pull over so we can talk.

So they stop, I pull ahead, and there we are, looking like people who just had a fender bender, sitting on the side of the road.

And that’s when they tell me grandma died.


I mean,


I mean,



We cry a little, we hug, we say we said our goodbyes to her, we remind ourselves that she was ninety-one years old, and they tell me that they didn’t want to call me and give me the news over the phone.  My aunt Teresa was probably on the way to tell us, but she didn’t have to now.  I could tell the kids in private.

And then we got in our cars and drive away.

Well, I figure, why not?  Their superweakness is obviously the same as mine.  They see me.  They know they have something big to tell me.  They think, “Well, won’t Amy feel bad if we see her and she finds out over the phone later?”


Anyway, I get home, and the bizarreness of the whole thing is still ringing in my head, and I post it on Twitter, because, well, it’s bizarre, and Twitter is a good place for that shit to resonate, right?

And then it hits me– oh FUCK!  Chicken’s on Twitter, and I haven’t TOLD HER.  So, if she’s on the computer, I just effectively told my daughter ON TWITTER that her great grandmother died.

So I texted her instead.

She was at IHOP with her friends.

She texts, “Yeah, I knew, I think.  I was weepy all yesterday.”

So, well, there you go.  Family superpowers and family kryptonite and how sometimes the twain shall meet.

The only thing missing is a name.

0 thoughts on “Mixed Blessings”

  1. Donna Lee says:

    I have a bit of that witchiness. The most memorable bits came when I was in college. I'd be out somewhere and just KNOW I should go back to my room. I'd get back there to find out my (then boyfriend, now husband) had called. He was in the Navy and phone calls were few and far between and I would grieve. (this was the stone age when cell phones, email and skype were still sci-fi).

    Today, I often call people to check on them only to find out that they need me for something and were going to call.

    It's not much but it's odd sometimes. Oh, and I give terrific hugs-a superpower that is never old.

  2. Unknown says:

    The night before my grandmother died, my brother, who lived on the opposite side of the country, had a dream where he was able to tell her goodbye and he loved her and she told him the same. He told me the morning after about it and it sent chills down my spine.

    When my father was in the hospital dying, my mother woke up to the sound of him calling her name (I was only 3 so she couldn't always spend the night at the hospital with him). Less than 5 minutes later, the hospital called and told her he had just pulled the breathing tube out of his throat and was resisting it being reinserted.

    There are lots of things in this life that happen that we can't understand, we just have to remember sometimes to trust our gut and go with our instincts.

  3. Could have been worse, you could have *not* told her.

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