Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Birth of a Grandparent

Grandma said… Grandma used to… Grandma showed me….  How many times have I said these words in the past, and how many more times will I say them in the years to come?   They preface the words of wisdom Grandma tried to instill in me.   Words of wisdom, memories, a few pictures, letters and a hand written recipe  (the one pictured) are all that is left of my German Grandmother.
While she was alive, her words of wisdom made very little impact on my teenage mind and decisions.  This was certainly obvious to her, so why then did she continue to instill them?  Why did she continue to work on creating memories?  Why did she never give up on her teachings?  It was as if she was putting down a foundation to a house, a house she would never see completed.   
It is now, after her death, that my memories of her, and her words of wisdom impact me most.  Often I feel closer connected to her through a memory than I did while she was alive, embracing me, and putting kisses on my scrapes and bruises.  As I hold my own child close, and bury my nose in her hair, I feel a strong, comforting connection with Grandma because I am experiencing the feelings of love she had for me.  I wonder if she in turn was thinking of her Grandfather’s love as she held me.   I don’t know why her teachings were not important to me while she was alive.  Perhaps I took them for granted.  Perhaps, in my young ignorance, I believed they would always be accessible to me.  Or maybe it was simply that I had yet to have life experiences to apply these teachings to.  It doesn’t really matter whatever the reason for my disregard was.  What matters, is that after all these years I am still able to remember them.  Often it is as if she is in the room with me.  Did she know she was leaving a legacy behind?  Did she have any idea of the foundation she was building?  Perhaps she did, because she would often say to me “One day you will remember this….” Or, “When I am no longer here, you will think of this…”, and so I do.
Maybe she learned from her own experience with her Grandfather.  Countless times she too would tell me stories of her Grandpa and speak of the knowledge, and wisdom he had tried to pass on to her while she was growing up, and she would recount memories she had of times shared with him.   Perhaps, as a young person, she too didn’t realize the impact these words of wisdom, and memories would have for her in the future. 

As I watch the day turn into evening, the shadows lengthen and the sunlight cast golden sparkles on my garden, I realize that I am witnessing her favorite time of the day. “Don’t turn on the lights,” she’d say.  “Lets sit by the window and watch darkness come.”  And so we would, while she told me stories of her Grandfather.