I will always remember the afternoon she waited on her front porch for my return to her home—after a twenty-year absence—wearing a white lace blouse and prim black skirt, and the morning, seventeen years later, when I sat by her side, as she took her last breath.
Grandma did more than heal me.
To this day she remains the most unique woman I have ever met.
A devoted church goer, every Sunday morning she would pull her silver hair into a neat bun, dab some color on her lips, and slip on her ‘ear bobbles.’ After Sunday dinner, of which she enjoyed every bite, she’d change into crumpled shorts, a tatty t-shirt and head barefoot to her back yard. Transformed into the mythical crone, she’d lose herself in the dirt of her garden. I followed behind her, enchanted by the magic her gnarled fingers and tiny body imparted upon the tangled life that thrived in her yard. By the time she was finished planting, pruning, weeding, watering, and visiting the neighbors, her hair would be a Medusa-like mess, and if there was any watermelon to be had, she’d relish a thick slice with a bit of salt.
Gracious and harsh, thoughtful and opinionated, she shared her intelligent humor with those who took the time to get to know her.
In the wake of my mother’s unexpected death, Grandma stepped in to fill her shoes. During one of our last quiet conversations, I told her, “When you get to heaven and see Mom, tell her you did a good job finishing raising me.”
Although I was twenty-four when Grandma and I were reunited, I had been deeply affected by the loss of my mother through divorce as a child, and then her suicide when I was twenty-three. Psychologically and emotionally I remained a girl. Grandma opened a secret door. One I could walk through to become the woman that I am.
Grandma was the only one in my family strong enough to hold my hand as I stared into the abyss that had been my mother’s life. Her firm grip was the only thing that kept me from diving in headfirst, to follow the beautiful, irreverent, spirited woman, I remembered my mother, grandma's daughter, to be.
How could I not cherish every moment with this incredible woman who pulled me into spaces, conversations, and ways of being that I couldn't have imagined without her?
When Grandma died, it was the first time I realized what I had deprived myself of. Because I had decided not to have children, I had no one to give what she had given me. Although we both had our melancholy side, whenever we were together, Grandma and I shined. When she was gone, I stood alone. Who could I give the triumph, the hope, the love, and the mystery of everything she had shared with me?
I needed to share it with someone.
My hope is that when you read my work, you will feel something of what I felt when I sat by Grandma’s side, and, that you will want to mine the mystical beauty of your own experience, here, on this good planet, Earth.