These days, if you're lucky, on a good day, you may still catch a glimpse of the truly remarkable and amazing woman that is my Grandma.
She turned 83 this year. Health problems are nothing new for the woman I once believed indestructible, however it is the absence from clarity of mind that is the most difficult to accept, at least for me.
Growing up next door, Grandma was my best friend. With an eighth grade education, she was still the strongest, wisest woman I knew. We gardened together, we planted, weeded, and harvested vegetables, fruits, and flowers. We shucked corn, shelled peas, and snapped beans. We fished together with cane poles and many a day would just cop-a-squat in the hot summer sun, bust open a watermelon and eat it right there in the middle of the dirt farm path with our hands.
I often spent the night at her house and went to bed wearing one of her lacy nylon or flannel gowns, smelling of Avon products. Right up into my teens, she would sing to me when I asked, a song she had learned as a girl, "Topsy Turvy Town" and I would drift off in utter bliss snuggled deep beneath layers of handmade quilts as Grandma lay beside me mumbling in her sleep.
Last week, we had a good visit. I took her fresh strawberries which she loves. She asked me several times where I got them and each time I told her the grocery store. Then she would offer them to me. Grandma, true to her nature, was never satisfied unless she shared what meager things she had and fed people.
She told me before I left that I should come stay with her when she got home. I told her I'd like that very much.
How I wish I could go back again, be that sun-kissed, long-legged blond little girl who went fishing with Grandma and went to bed smelling of Avon.
"And so our mothers and grandmothers have, more often than not anonymously, handed on the creative spark, the seed of the flower they themselves never hoped to see: or like a sealed letter they could not plainly read."
...Alice Walker, In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens (p. 240)