I’m struck by how mysterious it was: two people, with limited skills in each other's languages, communicating so perfectly.
Today’s guest blogger is Mysterious Ways associate editor Diana Aydin.
This past weekend I got a chance to spend some quality time with my grandma. She’s been sick the past few months and spends weekends at my parents’ house so they can keep an eye on her. The moment I walked through the door on Saturday, she showered me with kisses.
“I missed you, Nene,” I said, even though we’d seen each other two weeks earlier.
Nene and I are close. But we can’t communicate very well. She was born in Turkey and speaks very little English. And my knowledge of Turkish is limited to the names of food. So our conversations are simple. I’ll compliment her bright nail polish (“Nene, nice nails!”) and she’ll sing my name whenever I’m near (“Diana, Diana, Diana!”). But I’ve always wished we could have deep discussions. That I could call her up on the phone and ask her opinion about whatever is going on in my life.
On Saturday night, after everyone else went to bed, Nene and I sat on the couch and watched Downton Abbey. I wondered what we’d talk about now that we were alone. I so badly wanted to ask her about her life in Turkey. Or what she thought of Lady Violet on the TV show. Or which grandkid really was her favorite! But I couldn’t, so we just sort of smiled at each other.
Then she tapped her watch.
“Ten minutes, I go to bed,” she said.
“Me too,” I said. I turned back to Downton Abbey, but Nene wasn’t done. She put her hand on my arm and chatted away. She told me about her plans for the following day, then asked about my sister and her new boyfriend, trying to get the inside scoop. I explained what I could, using simple words. After that, it was on to my cousin’s baby–“Good baby. Doesn’t cry,” Nene said.
It didn’t end there. We also managed to discuss her new living situation and everyone else in the family. I couldn’t understand everything she was saying. But we were on a roll. I didn’t want the conversation to end.
I’m struck now by how mysterious it all was. That two people, with limited skills in each other's languages, could communicate so perfectly. It was one of the longest conversations I’d ever had with my grandmother. And it had very little to do with actual words. I can’t really explain it, but I’d never felt so connected to Nene as I did chitchatting on that couch.
Nene checked her watch. More than ten minutes had passed. It was time for bed. I got her a glass of water, then met her by her room.
“Goodnight, Nene,” I said. “See you tomorrow!”
“Goodnight, Diana, goodnight,” she said in that singsong way of hers. “I love you.”
That I understood perfectly.
Photo: My grandma celebrating her 93rd birthday in December with my mom and aunt.