My father calls his parents from across the ocean every week. He takes two hours every Sunday to bring them up to date on our lives. We’re separated by the sea, but this way it only takes them one thought to see us. My father calls his parents, and tells them about me, because mostly I can’t do it myself – time trickles away like the tides that come and go; often I can’t find those two hours Sunday morning to travel across the ocean. But like time that trickles away every day, seasons pass and summer begins – suddenly the ocean collapses on itself. Suddenly skyscrapers and orange-washed nights are replaced by sun bleached skies and salty air. Lamp posts start to look like dried out fir trees and the sound of my heels clacking against sidewalk is replaced by the crunching of gravel of my grandparent’s driveway.
Crickets play their xylophone legs all day and night there, but the time they seem loudest is when we first arrive. They play a sweet melody as we greet my grandmother, loud enough so even she and the crickets can hear – laid out on her lawn chair under the trees, she stays sat down. I don’t look at her wheelchair and instead walk over and sit down, with her, for now. My grandfather walks over the short distance. He then climbs the mental mountain I know it takes him to not look at my grandmother’s wheelchair, and he sits next to her as well, as always.
We sit in a rose lit circle illuminated by the peachy sun and salmon walls of my grandparents’ house and drink bubbly apple juice and talk about things we all know. My father calls to his father when he’s in the kitchen and tells him he’ll do the cooking. My mother talks to my grandmother, loud enough so she and the crickets can hear. My brother makes an effort to speak in French because even if there are some things we all know, he understands we need to be able to talk about them. I sit and observe as the bubbles of my apple juice trickle away like time, as time for my grandparents slows to a stop.
My grandmother used to cook for my father, his sister, his brother, his sister, and his brother, three times a day. She took her time and her recipes and baked wonderful pies and made jam from the fruit trees that grew downstairs. My grandmother cooks when we come now – she cooks with my father and tells him how to make mashed potatoes the way she makes them – she cooks and leans on the countertop and takes my dad’s arm to reach for the fridge. My dad lends his arm every time, and leaves the mashed potatoes be, for a minute, to help her.
My grandfather’s father climbed mountains and passed on a love for peaks and ways to his family – high altitudes are in our genes. As my grandmother sits and stands with aid, my grandfather sits and loves her. He now climbs his beloved mountains emotionally with occasional high altitudes of happiness, when my grandmother is happy. My father climbs mountains with us and keeps watch to see if we’re appreciating the view with him – mountains are his home, just like his parents are his home, and he loves to be able to bring us home with him.
My father cuts out two hours every Sunday morning to talk to my grandparents an ocean away, because in his heart, they are home – an ocean and mountain away.