We live a very urban life, nearly the opposite of a commuter lifestyle. 10 minutes to work or10 the other direction to Church, 5 to the library and 2 to the grocery store. As often as not, we can walk to run our basic errands, go out for dinner or do some light shopping. So my hometown, 45 minutes away by interstate, has always felt close enough for an easy visit but far enough away to require some planning. And for the woman who usually travels less than four miles to get where she needs to go, it is definitely a trip.
Wednesday morning, when my mom called me at work to tell me my grandma would be having emergency surgery, it suddenly felt much, much farther away. I resented every minute of the drive as we tried to get there in time to see her before they took her back.
But in the three days since, the distance seems to have shrunk. Suddenly I am a commuter as I take my 'shifts' at the hospital to help with her care. The route that always felt a hassle is suddenly routine, and I am comfortable in the morning traffic, the afternoon rain or the dark of a Friday night. It now feels like no distance at all to travel to be where I need to be.
Today we got her out of bed for the first, to take a few steps to a chair and sit upright for awhile. Afterwards, I told my mom that I was thrilled I was there for it, that it felt like I'd been present for a child's first steps. At age 86, she is one tough cookie. (Don't tell her I said that, though. She frowns at me when I call her a tough cookie and when my aunt called her a tough broad she raised one eyebrow.) I'm so glad I can be there to hold her hand while she walks this rough path.
(The photo is her taking a break in my sister's old room between events on Christmas morning, checking out a book Mom had given her underneath a quilt I made. I am so glad there are plenty more scenes like this ahead of us.)