It was about this same time last year. The dog days of summer had just passed, and a smidge of central Florida fall was in the air. Any cooler weather after a Florida summer is always welcome. I was heading north to Pittsburgh while Nando stayed in town to do some work.
I found myself roaming around my grandma’s house in the South Hills of Pittsburgh for the second time in the past couple of weeks. She had just left with my mom and two of my aunts for a girl’s weekend. I was dropping my mom off for the trip, and then I had a FaceTime interview for a Costume Design job in Miami. I didn’t have enough time to go to a Starbucks or another hot-spot location, so I decided Grandma’s dining room, with the sun shining perfectly through the front window (a rare occurrence in the Burgh), was better than anywhere. I made myself a coffee and set up my workstation. I had recently given grandma my cat, so I was happy to visit with him. I promptly had the conference call interview, and it went off great. Feeling on cloud nine, I laid down on the plush carpet of the living room in another sunbeam with the cat and played a little bit with some silly cat toy. Then, I found myself milling around the two-story house. I was just walking around, with all the time in the world, absorbing whatever was left of my family’s history.
Grandma had a tendency to “throw it over the hill.” I don’t know if that’s a Pittsburgh thing, but she gets rid of stuff quickly. She kept her personal items to a minimum, saving just a couple of very special keepsakes around. I paused on the second floor to look at one of the few remaining, a picture of my mom and her five siblings. Three of them, I had just seen a half an hour ago. I thought, wow, I’ve got great genes. Aunt Heidi and Kim still look like they look in this picture from 40 years ago. Mom, too and Grandma are timeless. I love to look at the fashion from back then (especially what my family wore) and, at the same time wonder what it would have been like to be one of six kids in the house. My Grandma, an only child like me, raised the litter with my grandfather Pap Pap, he was her rock. All of my aunts and uncle just adored him. He and Grandma were best friends. They were like bookends. They even looked alike in some way. He and I were like bookends too. He was my babysitter growing up, and I was his favorite. (He told everybody that). I thought it was our secret, and I was his favorite, especially being his first grandchild. I was so happy that my husband Nando got to know my Pap Pap and spend time with him before he died.
By this point, I had drifted from the hall, peered around the three bedrooms that my mom and her siblings grew up in, and found myself sitting at the desk in what was once my Pap Pap’s office. Mr. Kitty was peacefully perched next to me, looking deep into my eyes as I stared back. I just started balling. I missed my Pap Pap. I thought perhaps I also missed Nando, whom I hadn’t seen in a month. Or the cat? It was mostly Pap Pap that was on my mind. The memories that flooded my soul were so rich, clear, and beautiful in that stark room. Not a trace of Pap Pap, but he was there. He was there with me. I could feel him. A wisp of crisp fall air swooped around me even though no windows were open. One night after he had died, Grandma said, she thought she heard him talking to her and calling out her name from the hallway. This was uncharacteristic for her.
I started thinking of when he would take me fishing or coming to my high school track meets and even piddling around together in the garage. It was mostly always just him and me as it was now in this house.
Then, I heard his voice.
He said as clear as day. “You are going to have a baby.” He must have already met the little soul up in heaven. “The little baby will be coming to you and Nando, this time or the next time.”I wasn’t sure whatever that meant. I didn’t think much of it other than it’s an interesting “out of the blue” piece of information. I thought maybe he could tell me if I would get the job that I had just interviewed for as well. Then, the blur passed. I felt peaceful, refreshed, and confused. Nando and I had not even seen each other in a month and had no plans of getting pregnant. He however randomly called me from Florida the other day, saying that he wanted to have a baby with me. I had pretty much disregarded the idea or was still fighting it in my own way. At 36, if I hadn’t gotten pregnant so far, in the 13 years that we had been married, it seemed unlikely. Plus, my career is not the best for juggling a baby, and I like my sleep…
That was it. That was all I heard from Pap Pap. I chalked it up that he and I had some quiet time together. Whether grandma had materially swept the house or not, there was something beyond that was very present. That or I’d been watching too much “Long Island Medium” lately. I packed up my workstation in the dining room, said bye to Mr. Kitty and set off to spend some more alone time before Nando flew up that weekend. I never said anything about this to anyone.
Here I am exactly a year later with little Nando, my only child, perched on my chest as I type. He is seven weeks old. Last week he started looking around and focusing more than he had. I find myself thinking a lot about my Pap Pap and that fall day back in Pittsburgh. Except now, I am looking into little Nando’s sparkling eyes as he is looking back to me, knowing what he always knew and that he is home. He has been with me forever. I just didn’t know it. He winks at me sometimes as if he knows a secret like he was with my Pap Pap and he told him he was his favorite.
Xo Sally DC
@winnerhaven @sallyandnando winnerhaven.com
P.S. Little Nando has fair skin, strawberry blonde hair, and electric blue eyes just like my Pap Pap…