Noah has been living with my mother-in-law the past couple of months. He broke up with his girlfriend, spent a few nights here, a few nights at his old place, a night here and there on a friend’s couch, and eventually settled in at the land of biscuits and gravy with laundry service and hugs. I don’t blame him one bit.
I would’ve never imagined a scenario where they’d be living together at 24 and 78. But 2020 taught us to laugh at the idea of unimagined scenarios.
• Beverly (“Bee” to her grandkids) was diagnosed with breast cancer two weeks before we went on lockdown in March 2020. She lived in our hometown of Waxahachie, 30 minutes south of Dallas, in a house my father-in-law may as well have built 50 years ago. His fingerprints were on every stone, in every professional and amateurish detail of the little white house outside of town
• Eventually, Clyde moved in with her last summer. We had three 20somethings living here (our boys and Noah’s girlfriend) and we couldn’t expose her to COVID. So we all socially distanced for nine months.
• Even before cancer and COVID, it seemed Beverly was getting lonely living alone and might need some extra help. After nine months of constant companionship, we knew it was time. So this March — shoutout to Moderna for making this possible — she moved into an apartment eight minutes from us, and Clyde moved home.
• Clyde and I got married in April of 1996. His dad was diagnosed with kidney cancer that August, and I was pregnant with Noah by October. His dad passed away in January of 1997, on the first day I felt Noah move. Noah was born on June 22. If you aren’t doing the math, that’s 14 months. It was the most dramatic year any of us experienced, although 2020 did its best to uncrown it.
• Kenneth was 55. Beverly, 54. The same ages Clyde and I are now. I’m just going to let that sentence disturb me for a while.
• Beverly fell apart in every way you would imagine. Gracefully, of course, but everything about her life — and the life she expected to live — changed.
In ways that wouldn’t have happened if Kenneth had been here, we wrapped Beverly up into our life. And our life at that point was all about the summer arrival of Baby Noah. She came to his sonogram. She stayed with us after we brought him home from the hospital for as long as we needed her. She rocked and rocked and rocked Noah for as long as he needed her.
Noah was her first grandson. The mom of two boys, her muscle memory of how this would go was strong and, I think, comforting. When Sawyer was born almost three years later, she was as tickled as we were that brothers would be running up and down our stairs for the next couple of decades (and into the third, they still are!). And, of course, she stayed with Noah while we were at the hospital the night Sawyer was born. Starting perhaps that night, she has been there for all of Noah’s biggest life moments.
I think Noah saved Beverly. She is a strong woman, stronger than I think she knew. But Noah gave her a reason to get out of bed (or her recliner, which she took to sleeping in after Kenneth died). His arrival was a reason to put one foot in front of the other toward her future, a future she had never planned. Death then birth. Gutted then overflowing. Depressed then hopeful. Furious about the unfairness of it all then filled with the miracle of the same.
I watched Beverly fall in love with the idea of Noah — and then fall in love with Noah. And through that love, I think she found her way to her life after Kenneth.
People bond during strange times as these. Pandemics. Cancer. Mission trips. Death. Hurricanes. Summer camp. Boot camp. Beverly loves all her grandkids: our two boys and our two nieces. She is the grandmother every child in this world deserves. Every one of them. And Noah, Sawyer, Kayla, and Kimberly won the Powerball lottery when they got her. It is no slight to the other three when I say that the bond between Beverly and Noah is one born of timing and grief. It’s different. It’s adorable.
Noah and his girlfriend had been dating 4 1/2 years when they broke up this summer. The adulting required when dismantling a college love and all that came with it — including an apartment — was just as messy as those of us who have been through it know it to be. And Noah was as out of sorts as anyone grieving such a love. Most things about his life — and the life he expected to live — changed.
This time, Beverly saved Noah. Saved is dramatic, of course. But there is no way around a breakup but through it. And she gave him the perfect space to do that. His own room after moving out of his apartment and long being tired of living with us after the pandemic trapped him here post-graduation. My doing his laundry and cooking his meals isn’t a good dynamic (and I’m honestly not here for it). Her doing it is the privilege of a grandma.
There will never be another person in this world who is as happy to see Noah walk through a door as Beverly. I say that knowing how much I love him, how much Clyde loves him, how much his future life partner and kids will love him. He needed that this summer. And he got it several times a day. Plus breakfast before he went to work, clean laundry, and a partner to binge watch Grace and Frankie. Noah is a personal trainer so he also works her out a couple of times a week. He does it because he wants her to be healthy for as long as she can be; she does it because he wants her to.
At dinner last week — Noah and Beverly on one side of the table, my husband and me on the other — I had that gut-to-heart-to-throat-to-eyes-almost-tearing-up watching the two of them, the cutest couple I know. We should all be so adored.
The sandwich generation is marketed to us like a leftover olive loaf sandwich from your Friday lunchbox that isn’t found until Monday. There is none of that being served here and I am truly honored to be part of it, watching these two people I love, love each other. We’re just all saving each other the best we can, aren’t we? Noah and Beverly have been beautiful examples of that all his 24 years.