Yesterday morning I deposited a check. Not a big check, but enough that you wouldn’t want to lose it. Enough to do some good in the girls’ college fund some day.
Enough to make me cry.
Every year around this time, I deposited a check that looked a whole lot like this one; a check for $25 that warranted a long distance thank you call to Florida, along with some explanation of what wonderful things I would do with it.
“I’m going shoe shopping!” I’d tell my grandmother, never elaborating that I’d need a full $200 more for the heels I had my eye on. “I’m taking myself out for a nice lunch!” I’d say. “I’ve been craving a great bowl of pasta and I know just the place.” I could always her her lips crinkle up in a big smile from the other end of the phone. I could hear her eyes sparkle. I could hear the joy that came from setting aside some of her limited fixed income to send her grandchildren a birthday check, enveloped in a card purchased 10 for $6 at Publix.
There were the years that I desperately needed the $25 to pay my rent, but I never told her that. There were the years I didn’t need the $25 at all, but I never told her that.
I considered it once, but I remember my mother’s wise words: You don’t need the money, but she needs to give it to you.
Momsie has been gone 7 months now, but the hurt and longing still spring up at certain moments–a bit of good news I wish I could share, a TV appearance that would make her so proud, a new job, a new milestone for the girls. They mention her too from time to time.
“Who are members of our family? Mommy. Daddy. Grandpa. Grammye. Grandma. Papa.”
“And Momsie!” Sage adds, brightly.
Yes. And Momsie.
Funny how sometimes you feel the absence of a person more than you can feel a presence. It’s like physics f*cking with you. A universal practical joke.
Next month there will be no birthday check, of course. It’s all gone now, her tiny estate (such a funny term) divided up among the grandchildren. The stash of cheesy, sentimental birthday cards are gone too, and with them, the blue ballpoint xoxo love you, Momsie. With them, the phone calls to Florida, the crinkly smiles and sparkly eyes.
There was only this, the very last check.
I signed the back and fed it into the ATM slot, feeling my hands shake and hot, wet tears starting to form behind my eyes. Her name was on the check, but not in the signature. Only in the memo.