Wednesday, May 7, 2008


Mother's Day thoughts, Part 3

My sister and brother would attest to the fact that I have a lot of gaps in my childhood memories. Paula especially is forever pointing out people when I go home and saying things like: They were in every class you had. How could you not remember them?? Easy. At least for me.

She would also attest to the fact that my brain does recall a lot...just odd things to her. But I know there is one place she could bring up where memories come sharply into focus. That's Grannie's. We actually called it Grannie and Pop's. They were my dad's parents who lived in our town. The trip took half a day to travel. Well, now I realize that it was actually about 3 minutes! But at the time, it was all the way across town (it was a small town!). We were there what seemed to me to be at least a few times a week for one reason or another. Mostly just stop-by trips. But every so often, Mom and Dad would go on a date or to see a man about a dog (whatever that meant) and we'd get to spend the night with them.

But it's right there that Pop sort of drops out of view for me. Actually, my memory is pretty clear. It's just that it seemed he was literally out of the room. I'm sure the years have blurred sequences of events, but in my mind every evening he'd go lie down in their bed and Grannie would stay up with us until we fell asleep. That's when the fun began for us all. Sliding down the HUGE hill in back of the house on cardboard boxes. (Okay, it was about 15 feet long.) Playing dress up in Pop and Grannie's clothes to great applause. Playing with their dog, Lucky. Reading our uncle's college text books. (Well, maybe that last one was just me...and reveals more than I might want to!)

Grannie is also the reason that I can craft almost anything. I can macramé, crochet, knit, paint by numbers, weave beads, do string art and turn Sears Roebuck catalogs into works of art that are also useful for storing your bills and letters! Okay, I admit, I have no idea what that was about, but we folded hundreds of pages to make something! (Maybe Grannie was just filling time!)

In Grannie's house, time was slow. The night lasted forever because there was no bedtime. She'd pull out the bed from the couch and we'd eventually lay down to watch TV and drift off with her sitting in the recliner right next to us. We'd wake to the smell of pancakes in Mickey Mouse shapes...with vanilla ice cream if we asked nicely! Popsicles were usually the breakfast dessert!

As fun as all this was there was one thing that I remember most about Grannie, that I'll treasure about her forever. She made me feel completely accepted. No, maybe the words...delighted in...hit the mark more. I often felt very different from the crowd when I was growing up. Yes, I friends are saying to themselves that not much has changed! But Grannie's house was the place where that all faded away. I was wrapped up by a lady who beamed when she saw me...who thought everything I did was worth exclaiming over...who asked me over and over what I liked and made sure it was there to do. She was generous with her words, with her time, with her energy, with her possessions.

There was one day that stands out when I was still in elementary school. I've thought of it probably hundreds of times over the years. I was in the spare room on the right looking through that box of college text books. I found one that said "College Algebra". I had never heard the words, but once the book was opened, I was fascinated by it. It was like a puzzle I had to figure out. My dad passed down the hallway and looked in. When he realized what I was doing, he shook his head and told me to get out of there and go outside with the other kids. That's when I heard Grannie's voice. She told him to "let me alone", that I was fine right where I was. I remember him saying that it's not right that I'm in there reading stuff like that. She told him that this was her house and if I wanted to read old textbooks, I could. I remember the words she said last: She's fine. Just leave her alone.

Tears still come to my eyes as I write it. I was worth defending, standing up for...and more importantly, I was fine. I didn't often feel it at that age. I was different in school...different from family...different from friends. But not at Grannie's. There I was fine. Normal. Accepted. That day shaped me in ways that I can still see today. It is so important to me that my girls' oddities be accepted as just fine with me. I want them to feel delighted in, accepted, asked about, and I want them to know that they are worth standing up for.

I asked her years later if she remembered that day. She smiled at me and said no, but that she wouldn't doubt it. I was forever digging around in there, she said. And apparently my dad was forever trying to get me to join the family. The fact that she didn't remember just highlights the value of Grannie to me. It wasn't the extraordinary that made her such a treasure to me. It was the moments, all but lost by time, that made her days so normal to her...and so lifegiving to me.

I thank God for the gift of her as I think of Mother's Day. I'm grateful for the time I had. But I miss my Grannie.


eileen said...

You made me cry! She was such a jewel; never questioned me ~ just hugged me and said 'it will be ok' and I still love you..

Katharine in GA said...

ohhhh, that makes me miss you grannie too! i think you are more than fine, i think you are great! love you.