Photo: My grandmother upon meeting Ursa Minor for the first time. Feels like a million years ago. 🙂
When I sent my family in Maryland the pictures of the fallen tree, there were many “lols” sent back my way. And a few memories, too, of little girls and fallen trees back at the old house. One of those stories that only a mother can tell: “I’m pretty sure that you and your sister had a hand in knocking down at least one tree!” Between my mom and my aunt and uncle, there were stories of their family dog and their fallen tree and how my grandmother had to clean up the mess (and how pissed she was). Phone calls came, and those calls came with yet more stories. Stories about my grandmother and all she did around the holiday season, and the shenanigans of her four children and, apparently, one handful of a dog.
My grandmother has been on my mind all week. I usually call her on Sunday afternoons, but we’ve been so busy that I’ve missed the last two weekends. I was able to make it up last time, but this week, it feels like everything keeps blowing up during my quite windows of time. So when my uncle called to tell me the story of Biscuit and The Toppled Christmas Tree, I said to him, “well, when you call her tomorrow, tell my grandmother that I’m thinking of her. And tell her that I haven’t been able to call because I’m living her life right now!” I’ve been saying it all week: “I’m totally living Grandy’s life right now. When did I turn into Grandy?” And not the little-old lady Grandy who I know right now. I’m talking about the Grandy who I didn’t know. Bad-ass, hard working, got it all done with style and had 2 jobs and had 4 kids and was the usher at church and stuff Grandy.
I don’t think I realized how much of a role model that my grandmother has been for me until I started raising a family of my own. I’ve always loved her, and have been close to her, but I don’t think that I wanted to be her until these last four years. Suddenly I had children, and I wanted to emulate her: good cooking on the table every night, baked goods always in the oven, signature dishes that the whole town knows about, a warm clean home with the door always open… there was something romantic about that “old school” life that she and Poppy were able to create. And the memories that come from my mother and her siblings always ring with a sort of magic. Of course, there were hardships (and I’ve heard those stories, too), but the results are also something out of a fairy tale: my grandmother is probably hosting no less than three people in her living room at this very moment. She wants for nothing. She is probably laughing over some sort of town gossip or telling a story about somebody and some such… and it’s all because of the time that she put in on the front end: the late nights listening to a person in need, the pies baked for the church sale, the kinklings fried and delivered during Lent, the battles fought and won over fairness, kindness, hard work…
And here I am emulating that model behavior. I was up at 4:30 this morning to bake two loaves of brioche and 12 muffins, and knit 16 rows on this project that I must get done. I dropped my kids off in a huff but took the time to say good morning and chit-chat with no less than 5 people on the way to my car. I stopped by a friend’s shop and purchased some earrings for my mom and sister (a spontaneous purchase that my husband is going to kill me for. But my mom and sister are going to love them and that’s all that matters to me), but only after chatting for 30 minutes. And then, feeling crunched for time to get here and write, I spent 10 minutes with the Starbucks Barista talking about holiday decorations (while she made my latte, of course). When I leave this desk, there is a playroom to straighten and a pizza to order because I’m picking up Major’s “best friend” for a playdate today. That second loaf of bread? Going to her mother because I had to break our date last week. “You can break a playdate any time if I know I’m getting bread out of it!” It’s a silly thing to do, yet it feels good to do it. I was baking bread anyway, so why not make two?
And while I’m doing it all, I can hear my grandmother. I can see her. I saw her in my hand gestures while I was talking, heard her in my laugh, saw her in the warm smiles given and received. I’m tired and stressed in a way that I’m sure she was time and again on her journey, but I’m also feeling full in a way that I know she does right now. It’s a busy life. A good life. A life worth leading.
It is a Friday in December and the sun is out in Massachusetts. That’s a big deal, because it was gone all week! My grass is frosted by snow that fell last night. It glitters in the light and certainly makes me excited for the upcoming holidays. On this busy Friday, filled with obligations big and small, I have many wishes for you, dear reader. The first is that you have time to get all that you need to done. That’s a big wish, for sure! The second wish that I have for you is that you hear a motivating voice sometime over the weekend–from a person who you can call and get a pep-talk from, or from a memory that comes to you in a daydream or quiet moment. I wish you efficiency and productivity with all of your tasks, but I also wish you a moment of warmth and conversation, a smile and sincere “hello” from a passer-by. I wish you the sound of a piano playing, the crackle of a (real) fire in a fireplace, the smell of good things baking and better things slow cooking. I wish you an unexpected package or a card from a long-lost friend. I wish you a phantom text from a number you haven’t seen in a long while. I wish you a long, tight hug and a kiss on the cheek from a person who loves you. Above all else, I wish you the joy of knowing that you are loved. Near and far. Known and unknown. And that you are worthy of that love.
Until Monday, take care!