When I was a little boy, my grandma always told me to be myself. Because that’s what she did.
Grandpa died after the war and since then, she had been living in their old house alone. Without him for 7 years, she found herself unhappy. She started meeting guys and even though her kids never approved it, she went out and dated men she liked. She fell in and out of love multiple times. She was 64, always dressed in sparkly clothes and ready for the ballroom dance floor. She was having the time of her life. Women at her age never liked her. People talked nasty things about her but she didn’t care. I remember her saying “I’ll put my makeup on and dress nicely. Their men will fall for me.” in front of a mirror, brushing her hair while also checking her lipstick. I knew she was happy.
I asked her once “Did you love grandpa?” With tears in her eyes she said “Yes. He’s the man I ever needed. I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him, just like what we promised..but he’s gone.” I never had any memory of grandpa. But based on her stories, she was happy with him.
Years had passed, I’ve grown old and moved town. The last time I saw grandma was in her deathbed. She was 81. She could hardly speak, yet she was able to call my name. She looked at me closely and put her wrinkly hand on my lap. I found her smiling at me. Her eyes were telling me words I needed. I didn’t say anything. Instead, I gave her a kiss on her cheek. And I guess that was my goodbye. She passed away hours later.
For the last time, she wanted me to feel what she had felt freeing herself.
Now, I’m 41. I have a steady job and got recently married. I’m in the hospital right now, waiting for my daughter to be born. With the help of a woman who agreed to be the surrogate mom, my husband and I are going to be parents.
Grandma, I am happy.