Never enough time for teddy bears

Yesterday my grandma called me. I called her on Thursday and left a message. She called me at 8:00pm. I picked up only to say “I’m working, I’ll call you tomorrow”. I called just after 3:00pm on Friday, only to leave a message that said: “call me before 4:00pm”. She called me yesterday.

I told her how I was doing, how stressed I feel, how there is never enough time. I asked how she was doing. She told me that grandpa wasn’t doing well. His heart is acting up again.

I hear that statement and my own heart plummets to my stomach and just sort of rumbles. I immediately start thinking about family life: family dinners, Christmas holidays, laughing and laughing. I think about opening up birthday cards signed “love gramma and grampa” and think to myself: grandma spells it one way, I spell it another. The way she spells it makes me think of graham crackers. I immediately picture my grandparents as teddy bear shaped cookies and smile.

I think about school and how it is eating up a considerable portion of my time: 15 hours of classroom time a week, add an additional 45 minutes for commute (180 minutes of commuting a week), add an additional 3-6 hours of homework time per class (12 – 24 hours per week). Now I can include work: 14 – 18 hours per week, plus 90 minutes commute twice a week (180 minutes). Now I add the time I spend volunteering per week, I think about special events that I attend, I think about going for dinner or drinks with friends, I think about date nights with my partner, I think about the amount of down time I require before my eyes start twitching and I start shaking with anxiety. And only then do I think about my family.

My grandpa’s heart is acting up again and I’m in the Central Branch location of the Vancouver Public Library studying for my midterm that I have tomorrow. Actually, I lied, I’m writing this. I was intending on studying, but I had this persistent thought to put this down and articulate how I feel so that I can actually muster up the courage to apologize for being so fucking busy that I can’t seem to manage my time to include more family time; any family time. Ironically, the midterm that I have tomorrow is for sociology of the family, so maybe I am studying by writing about mine.

Yesterday I was talking with a coworker about favourite smells. My all time favourite scent is old spice cologne mixed with Cuban cigars. That is what my grandpa smelled like for the majority of my childhood; this is before my grandma convinced him to stop smoking so that his lungs wouldn’t act up.

Most of my life, I have seen my grandma once a week. During that visit, I find out if my grandpa is doing well, as well as the rest of the extended family. This is because my grandma is the kin organizer. I learnt this term in my intro to anthropology class last summer, and it was reintroduced during my sociology class this semester. My grandma is the link between family members. It is her that reminds people of birthdays coming up (don’t forget to call ______ and wish them a happy birthday!) She is the original google calendar. I used to see my grandma once a week, now, I’m lucky if I see her every 6 weeks. We try to call each other once a week, sometimes it’s every other week. If I call her after an especially long period of time, she answers the phone with: “did you forget about your grandma?” and I jokingly say “did you forget about your granddaughter?” but really I feel shitty for neglecting to call one of the most important people in my life.

The older I get, the more I realize that time slips by at an alarming rate. I am so happy to be challenging myself and gaining knowledge, but I am filled with guilt for not being available. I have approximately 2 and a half years of school left, but how long do I have my grandparents for?


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