Saturday, April 30, 2005

My Dream.

I have a reoccurring dream about my grandma. She is sitting on the front porch of her house, which is brilliant white set upon a brilliant white hill. I climb the steps and sit beside her on the front porch swing. She smiles at me and I take her hand and lay my head on her shoulder. I say, “I love you grandma.” “I love you too sweetie,” She replies. I look at her. “I miss you so much.” “I’m still here,” she says. “But it’s not the same.” I say sadly. “No. no it isn’t,” She says as she hugs me.

I close my eyes and see flashes of my childhood with her in brilliant color and texture. I see myself picking blueberries for breakfast in the early morning. I see me running through clean white sheets she is hanging on the line in the sunshine. I see me lying in bed beside her at night with the wind blowing the curtains in the window as she teaches me to pray.

Every child should have a person in their life like my grandma. I was so blessed to have wonderful parents. But to have another person who thinks you hung the moon, as my grandma did about me, causes a child to believe in oneself as never before.

I was one years old when my grandma’s husband died. She never re-married although still young and attractive. (She had had my dad when she was 15) She ran a “nursery” from her house that would be called a daycare today. There were two rooms attached to her garage and that is where the children ate and slept. She lived on a 10 acre playground. She had a big swing set, but nothing else. We played with old rubber tires, making up our games by building with them or rolling them or laying in them. We had trees to climb, dirt and ditches to play in. I don’t ever remember being bored. Imagination is a wonderful playmate.

It drove my dad crazy that she would hardly charge more than she spent. If a mother couldn’t pay one month, she would let it go. There was something so strong and independent about her. And there was love. Oh boy, was there ever love.

There were birthdays and Easter. There were Sunday dinners, Fourth of July, and any event she could celebrate, she did. Every Christmas Eve of my childhood was spent at my Grandma’s. First with just my family, my Aunt and Uncle, and later my cousins and nieces and nephews. We would start out with a big dinner with us kids itching to get it over with so we could open our presents. When given the go ahead, we would race to the living room and stand and marvel at our glittery presents as they reflected the brilliant lights of the Christmas tree. It was……magic.

Years later after my grandma had died and I was grown, I remember singing Christmas carols in a choir at a nursing home. As we were singing I noticed an old lady in a wheelchair crying. I left the stage and went to her and knelt down and took her hand. “Are you alright?” I asked. She said simply, “I miss Christmas.” I knew exactly what she meant. I said, “I do too.”

When my father died I was only 22 yrs old. My grandma was only 68. I spent 2 weeks with my mother, sleeping with her and comforting her. But during the day when everyone would come over, I drove to my grandma’s. As much pain as my mother was in I knew that there was no greater pain than losing a child. As usual though, my grandma was the one who made me strong.

My Grandma was never famous, never wrote a book, never won a Pulitzer, she never even finished high school, but she forever lives on through her love. She celebrated my life. She taught me how to celebrate it as well. Her love and her caring are a part of me that I give to my children and they will give to theirs. Generations from now my great great grandchildren will not know my Grandma’s name, but they will know her, because she will live in them by the love that she passed down. That is the legacy each of us is allowed to give. Who will remember what you did or the car you drove, or how much money you made? But love…that will be forever remembered and lived.

When I realized that I was losing my grandma to Alzheimer’s, I tried to tell her how much she meant to me before she forgot me. I stumbled on the words. How do you thank someone for giving you self confidence? For teaching you compassion? For loving you unconditionally? Words did not seem enough. I simply said, “Thank you for loving me so much.” With her usual way of making me feel like a princess, she smiled and said, “You made it easy.”

In my dream when I open my eyes I am alone on the porch swing. I look around for my grandma, but I can't find her. I close my eyes again and hear my heart beating in the quiet. And I realize that she is there, in every beat of my heart. In all the love that I feel.

She is there.