When I was a little girl, my family loved The Productions. Granpa Isaac built the sets, and Gramma Isme was the star. One minute she’d be Desdemona, the next Lady Macbeth, then Juliet or Viola. She’d even portray Hamlet or Puck when the spirit was on her. Her favorite was Ophelia.
“There’s rosemary … pansies … fennel … “ I often wandered in and out of sleep as she named the herbs and flowers.
Before my mom was born, her parents had been famous on the Shakespearean circuits. Granpa was a renowned set designer, and Gramma played all the parts that would later enthrall her grandchildren.
“Why’d you leave the stage?” I asked Gramma Isme when I was a teenager, rummaging through her fabulous costumes.
“To build a house, plant a garden, grow a family.” Grandpa Isaac nodded his agreement, his hand resting lightly on hers. When they settled down, she wrote children’s stories, he designed houses for newly-weds. They were wildly happy for many decades.
Then, in his early nineties, Granpa was diagnosed with cancer and Gramma decided she’d go with him when he died. “Don’t be sad. It’s our time.” Her smile was as joyous as ever. “Life goes on,” she’d say, patting my belly. “Don’t leave!” I wanted to shout. I wanted my babies to see The Productions, to grow up with the Bard just like I did.
A couple of months ago we were sitting at Granpa’s bedside, when Gramma tugged at my arm, pulling me to the window. “A double rainbow!” She was like a little kid at Christmas. “The first arc is someone going to heaven, the second arc is someone coming down from heaven. It’s a sign!” She ran back to the bed and touched Granpa’s cheek with her own. Two ninety-something year olds, shining like twin suns. A few hours later, they both died quietly, together.
Today Jon and I are planting a garden.
“There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance,” I whisper through my tears. Then I smile at our tiny babies Isme and Isaac, asleep in their stroller. “Life goes on.”