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Upside-down Flowers

In which case, I sit with my Grandma in her living room and we discuss Mother’s Day because that’s when my brother’s supposed to visit with his new daughter. He is estranged, and my parents will not be attending dinner with the family; they will instead and noncommittally meet for a Mother’s Day something or other with their new and only granddaughter, and surely it will be just formality, and my mother will fear being hurt as she has since she was six and when my grandfather disappeared for a month and without reason. This is to say, there is no blame–that being the hardest lesson–and why I’ve learned to instead love everyone.
There probably will not be a lot said or repaired, my grandma and I agree, and while my grandma talks and has cancer. The clock rings twelve and I can’t hear her because the tumor presses on her vocal cords.
“Should I tell your brother? About the cancer?” My Grandma is 89; I’m 37. We consult.
Finally: “He should know before he gets out here, I think.”
And I have a McDonald’s cup of coffee in hand because, anxious, I drove past my grandma’s house on the first run and found myself in a foreign parking lot, and so why not buy coffee. It’s decaf. There’s that. Wouldn’t want to trigger any nerves.
My grandma points out a quilt that she’s displayed in her front room forever.
“That’ll be yours. There’s a mistake in it, though.”
She proceeds to tell me how she’s made these errors in all her quilts, some that she’s painstakingly corrected with scissors, needles, and thread before her retinas finally gave out.
She says she misses hand-quilting and I say that I get it. If you took writing away from me, I would be empty and how dare life grant you a passion and take it away so that you die with your hands tied behind your back or that your nose be given a needle, or that you must hold a nib between your teeth.
She tells me, forgivingly, that she knows I see things different, but that God’s carrying her through this; I was the only one crying. With a fucking cup of McCoffee. Which is far less poetic than one set of footprints.
I tell her that in every Persian rug, the crafter makes exactly one purposeful mistake. That perfection belongs to God or something and how arrogant to make something perfect.
We are excusing imperfection and there was that time I took care of her garden when she broke her hip and I under-watered her plants.
(She is Stage IV. I know this already. The doctors will tell her this two weeks away from today. She has headaches. Really bad headaches. I know it’s Stage IV–I’m sure of it).
I tell Jenn I don’t want to cry in front of Cayde yet. My grandma says she’s not panicked and that she’s 89 and has had a long life.
I work with birds, and panic causes myopathy, in which case trauma shunts blood to the core, and wings and limbs turn white and lose their use. Blood rushes to the heart, which once protected by blood, eventually gives up because of too much blood and then the heart breaks and it stops.
I took off my glasses at some point and my grandma told me that all will be ok. There’s no one not dying in my family that would say said same. And can you imagine that?
I will inherit a quilt and stitched into it is a flower patch that is unerringly and certainly upside-down.

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