Driving in the car with the windows open, sun (finally) shining on my face, I can't help but reflect. My mind wanders. Memories surge.
My grandmother passed away when I was 8 years old. My mom was only...God. My age? Younger. She was younger than I am when she lost her own mom. That's baffling to me...
I have a few real memories of my grandma. Strong ones, like sitting behind her, brushing her hair, even though she would pay to have it set at the salons. (Or did she do her own, but do it so well that I couldn't tell?) Either way, she let me and my sisters brush and comb and put in "fancy barrettes" without much fuss. How generous a heart she had. How kind...
We (my younger sister and I) used to "sneak" her romance novels and move her bookmark to a different chapter. We'd then ask her if she wanted to read for a while, giggling behind our hands. She would always gasp "in surprise" when she'd realize that "someone" had moved her bookmark... It wasn't until much later that I actually understood how sweet she was about our little pranks. She adored us and didn't care if she had to reread a chapter more than once.
I can distinctly remember sitting on her bed in the mobile home she and my grandfather lived in. She collected beads and sequins in a large bin and would let us sort through them to our hearts' content. There are still a few Christmas ornaments on my own tree that were constructed by her crafty hands made up of stick pins, sequins, and beads all arranged in a truly perfect order around styrofoam balls. I don't know how she did that; I tried once, to recreate her designs... It's not as easy as it looked. The patience and artistic talent she must have had makes me smile whenever I see them reflecting the lights on our branches.
She cooked the best spaghetti with... rabbit meat. Seriously, if you've never had it, I cannot describe it. I probably only had it a few times in my young life, but the memory of that smell and taste is one that has stuck. I've tried to cook it with chicken instead; the sweetness of not only the meat, but also her hand, is lacking and the sauce does not compare.
There was an assortment of magnets on her refrigerator that were somehow exotic to our little minds. It was truly FUN to spend our afternoons arranging the dimestore flowers, vegetables, and random doo dads into scenes that would then hold up our drawings. The magnets always seemed to just "be there" but I wonder, did she scour the flea markets in her free time, picking up new ones here and there so that we would be surprised on our next visits?
My God, I was only 8... Younger than Corinne is now. I try to not focus on the memories of her final months, but she was so sick, so fast and I was so little. It was scary, despite my parents' efforts to shield us from her disease. When they removed her larynx in an attempt to get rid of the cancer, she couldn't talk anymore, but she still found a way to write out how much she loved us... As a kid, that paper didn't impact me as much as it does now. What kind of effort must that have involved to hold the pencil to the paper and shakily write for 3 little girls?
Driving today, it hit me again how much I owe to all of the women before me. My mother, her mother, and all of the mothers before them... The women who have held their babies and loved each generation, raising them in one continuous line until it reached me...and extends beyond me. I cannot feel alone or disconnected when I count the mothers before me. The mothers who will come after me. the babies who become women who become mothers, all because of the love and hope of those who surrounded them.
Springtime never fails to remind me of renewal. No matter how empty a field, how barren a tree, or how gray a sky, the spring always comes.
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