Here’s a story that illustrates how my face must have looked.
After I dropped my daughter and grandson at the airport for their post-holiday flight home, I decided to eat lunch at In-N-Out Burger in Woodland. Although it was 12:15 p.m., the restaurant wasn’t crowded and a young woman motioned me to her cash register immediately.
I placed my order and got my number.
I put ice in my cup, added tea, chose a table, decided it was too large, and moved to a small one.
Then I stood next to the place where they give you your food. A few people picked up trays and then they called my number.
“I’m sorry it took so long,” said the cashier, with a sympathetic look on her face and apology in her voice.
I checked my watch.
It had only been four minutes. No reason to apologize. Why did she do it?
Then I knew.
It must have been my face. I’m not sure what showed exactly, but she interpreted my expression as hunger and, in a way, it was.
I had just said good-bye to my daughter after a wonderful holiday visit. I had just watched my tiny grandson standing straight and holding her hand as he rode up the escalator to the gates. I wanted them back already.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining. I consider myself one of the luckiest moms in the world to have had my children late (starting at age 34) and still have my first grandchild early, while I am healthy and active.
And how could I complain about a visit that was a month long, probably the last time my daughter and son-in-law will have that much time.
One thing about spending a month with a year-and-a-half old baby is that you rarely, if ever, slow down. Perhaps that’s why one moment — a moment of complete stillness — stands out in my mind from the long visit.
We were riding home from our cabin in Lotus, and I was sitting next to Carson in the back seat. My job was to try to get him to nap, which I did by pretending to be asleep myself. The first time I peeked at him, he was staring right back at me. The next time, he was asleep.
I sat up and looked at him.
I went over every detail, from his creamy skin to his feather-tip eyelashes to his huckleberry lips. I studied his nose, his perfect hands, his sturdy legs. I thought about how he has changed since birth. His cheeks are rounder, his torso is longer, he has hair.
I thought about changes to come. More hair. Stronger arms. Longer legs.
How many, I wondered, of those changes will I see? Will I see the 5-year-old soccer player? The nervous teen? The proud college graduate? Could I possibly see him at the same age that his father is now: 28? With the strong-chinned face of a grown man, could he already have a son?
I could be alive for all of that. But will I be?
I’ve had quite a share of good luck already.
Here’s another moment from the visit. I was in our cabin with Carson while my daughter ran an hour-long errand.
When I heard her drive up, I said, “Carson, Mommy is home.”
I picked him up and let him look out the window as she got out of the driver’s seat and came around the car.
He hadn’t been unhappy while she was gone, but suddenly his face shone as if the world had cracked open.
A person with a smile like that could wait for an hour at In-N-Out Burger and no cashier would feel the need to apologize. Such happiness doesn’t need food.
I’m sure that I, too, sometimes break out in a huge, spontaneous smile, although I don’t know what my own face looks like at such a moment.
I couldn’t see it, for example, when I learned that grandchild No. 2, Carson’s little brother or sister, is coming in June.
Finally, an e-mail this week from my daughter, also about my face.
She wrote, “This morning Carson and I read the ‘my family’ book. When we got to the page with you he started grabbing at your face — the way he does when he sees a picture of a cookie and wants to eat it.”
Marion Franck is a resident of Davis whose column frequently appears in the Mountain Democrat.