Coming Home

December 22, 2009 at 4:45 pm | Posted in Ramblings | 1 Comment
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This weekend, Barton and I drove to Tuscaloosa, Alabama for my grandmother’s memorial service. While we were caught in the snow and ice in Charlotte, we did finally make it. I read the piece below at the service on Sunday. When Barton and I would visit my grandmother, we would have the most incredible exchanges, most of them without any words. 

There’s almost more that I don’t know about my grandmother than what I do. I don’t know what it was like for her growing up, being a minister’s wife, or raising three children in times of uncertainty and change. I didn’t know her in her younger years, a Southern Woman, wearing magnificent dresses and style of the time. I didn’t see her when she taught classes to children or Body Recall to seniors.

But what I do know are precious moments in time, and so today I will link some of those memories together, little jewels like pearls on a necklace.

I remember my grandmother reading to me as a child, and when I would visit Tuscaloosa, we would sit in the living room upstairs reading or talking. She would make frocks for me to wear, but I was much more interested in wearing overalls. I would know my grandmother by her conversations with my mother in the kitchen making dinner or the lunches after church when granddad would retire downstairs.

If we went out, we would go to 5th Street Diner, or if it was a special occasion, Cypress Inn. It would always take us some time to determine the best place for us to sit, usually by the glass windows overlooking the water.

As time progressed, there were memories of uncertainty, concern and anguish over her fading memory. There were also moments of humor and laughter, like the time when granddad came home to a house full of Beannie Babies, little stuffed animals. Now I can tell you that my mother was as much of an instigator as grandmom in this adventure. The downstairs Christmas tree that was filled with Beanie Babies was a symbol of their spirit, laughter and life.

When granddad had surgery, grandmom’s fire and spunk was made known to us all. But when we took her to granddad’s room in recovery, they sat next to each other in silence. While we left to give them some privacy, for just a moment, a milla-second really, I noticed granddad pat her on the knee and on the face. I learned more about endearing love in this moment than nearly at any other time in my life.

Grandmom knew my husband Barton not by his name, but by his face. We would walk into her room, and she would pat Barton’s goatee and laugh. Every visit would begin in this way. We were there with her, wherever she was in that moment. The past didn’t matter, the future did’t matter, only that present moment.

Once, she advised me that when I got married, not to pay any attention to what my husband thought or said, just to do what I wanted to do anyway. She told me that while granddad was downstairs or away at church, she would dance. Now while I haven’t completely taken her advice, what I believe she meant was not to worry about what other people thought or said. She blazed her own path, and whether it was known or hidden, she lived an independent life.

Everyone here may have different memories, that of a mother, a grandmother, a church member, a teacher, a friend. Today we honor and celebrate these memories so that we may live our lives fully, in the present moment, as she did.

My mother wrote to me one time saying, “Your path isn’t easy, it is made of jewels milked with stones that make you strong and able.” This is how I remember both my grandmother and my grandfather.

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  1. There is such a gift in being able to put into words these things. Truly precious and inspiring. Thank you.

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