Wednesday, February 05, 2014

A time for every matter under Heaven...

How do you say goodbye to someone who has been a part of your life for longer than you've been alive? I don't think you do... I don't think you're supposed to.

Even as the realization tingles in every fiber of your being with the acute pain of something missing, and the hole that's been left in your heart threatens to cave your chest in and disintegrate everything that gives your body structure... you mustn't let it.

Stop for a moment... Take a deep, if ragged breath, and then take another one.

And know this. This is the moment... the moment in which everything changes. In fact it is from this *very* moment forward, that you must draw from all the good memories you've put away.

Every single one of those memories that are floating around inside the dusty recesses of your mind, that are now tugging gently at your skirt or coattail... don't brush them off, stop for a moment and look at each of them, turn them around, dust them off and remember how they got there.

Don't try to look at them in the darkness of the light that no longer burns, but pause and let your eyes adjust... and you will see that they shine with a light of their own.

 Once you've looked them all over tuck them away, safe in the hole in your heart... and hopefully you'll find that the hole isn't nearly as large as you thought it was.

This is what you save up good memories for.

There are so many things I want to tell you about my Granny. So many things that you would have to know in order to have an understanding of who she was and what she meant to me. But the thing is, I'm not story teller she was... and I'm not sure I can weave this tale together in any sort of pattern right now.

Well to start with, I can tell you that Granny told me with some disdain that she didn't want to make it to a hundred. "Those people are old, and all they do is sit there. I don't want to be like that!" ...and here we are, she would have turned 100 at the end of May.

"I've lived a good life" she always used to tell me. "I have wonderful children who all found good partners, and they're all still together... and they have wonderful children, and I have grand-children and great-great-grandchildren" and then she'd look back into memories that nobody else could see and smile.

She had a beautiful smile.  Her whole face wrinkled up when she smiled, and her eyes twinkled but all the wrinkles knew which way to go. I want to be old like this. Loving, and warm with an air of ancient wisdom. One part pioneer, two parts awesome and one part regally classy like the Queen Mother... when appropriate.


Whenever we spoke on the phone, she could make ten minutes feel like an hour, catch you up on all the important things going on in the family and still make you feel like you were the most important person in the world. No matter what kind of trouble I was getting into Granny would listen carefully and say "As long as you're happy that's the main thing."

She was a wonderful story teller, she was always talking, she loved to talk - got into more trouble that way. She had a way of saying things that no matter how soft or quiet her voice was, it made you stop whatever you were doing and listen. Even if you had already heard that story a hundred times before, or you were no relation whatsoever... time would slow down and you would hang on every word of that story.

She had stories about everything, good and bad... things that just don't happen anymore. But I loved how she delighted in the telling. Her entire body would change when she was telling a story, like she was somehow lighter. I liked that sometimes she told the sad ones too, with a respectful "that's just how it is sometimes".

One of the stories we have about Granny, that makes me ever so proud to be her grand-daughter was when she went down the *big* water-slide at West Ed.

Another one of my favorite Granny moments, was when her and my Aunt were leaving a restaurant up Island and Granny pointed at a motorcycle in the foyer and said to my Aunt "*That's* a Harley-Davidson!"

Well it turned out that the proud owner of that lovingly restored Harley was right behind them, and when he asked Granny if she'd like to sit on it she said "Oh yes please!", and just like that this big hulking 6 foot-something of a man picked Granny up and set her in the saddle.  In the picture of that moment, Granny is grinning to split her face, but the best part of that was after when she recounted the tale of it her eyes would twinkle and she'd end up grinning again.

When my Grandpa passed away, I composed a list of things I remembered about him that nobody else knew... well, these are some of the things about Granny... things I remember from when I was little;

I remember her turning around to me sitting on the dining-room table and saying in a stern voice "Tables are for glasses, not for children's asses" and it shocked me so much that she'd said *whispers*asses*whispers*, that I very nearly fell off!
I remember sleep-overs on weekends, and pushing the couch up against the end of her bed for me to sleep on, singing Robbin-a-Bobbin, and reciting this prayer before bedtime each night...
"Now I lay me down to sleep
I give the Lord my soul to keep
If I die before I wake
I give the Lord my soul to take" 
I remember waking up at 5, and watching cartoons until Granny got up at 8 and made me breakfast... and then let me eat and watch in front of the TV (yes Granny let watch TV for *hours* and it was amazing!)

I remember a round black dog named Binny, because once Granny talked to a vet who unwittingly gave her the advice that if it wasn't going to be a show-dog to "feed it whatever you like" and from that day forward every dog in her life was spoiled with a sampling of the table scraps... or whatever happened to be left over.

I remember walks to the park, even when it was raining... and puddle jumping, she'd call me "Puddle duck" and that it never really mattered what the weather was like, or how wet and dirty I got, we always had fun.

I remember Granny babysitting us as kids, and when Daniel was crabby she opened up the drawer and let him play with all the pots and a wooden spoon.  It was almost as loud as him screaming, but he was happy...

I learned a lot of things from Granny, and I have so many favorite moments that I will probably be writing about them as I remember for the next 30 years... but one of the morsels of wisdom that she passed on came at a perfect time in my life. It was the story about a visit to Northern Ontario with her Mom, Dad and I'm thinking he must have been her fiance at the time, my future Grandfather.

She related the tale with an impish twinkle in her eye... they'd snuck and gone to the Olympic pool, and the two of them had dared each other to dive off. Granny told me that she climbed up and up and up and up, and by the time she was up there, there was no way she was admitting to being chicken and climbing back down so she jumped. The impact of hitting the water stretched her swim cap down over her eyes and face, but she did it!

The next morning, her parent suggested they go check out the Olympic pool... since they were in the area... Granny said when they got there they looked waaaaaay up at the high diving board they'd jumped off of the night before. "You know" she said, "if I'd been able to see that's how high it was I  wouldn't have jumped!" 

That's when she said to me "There are *some* things I never told my parents, and there are some things my children have never told me... *nodding* and I'm alright with that."

Thanks Granny, that's good to know... I'll keep that in mind ;)