Thursday, November 25, 2010

Angels among us

One of the earliest holidays memories I have is from a shopping trip to Roanoke, VA with my grandmother.I was around three, and we were at a department store called Heironimus, and it had a magical display of Christmas ornaments. Gran let me choose one, all of my own, for my tree at home. I chose a tiny angel with a porcelain head and tulle netting body, with little chenille arms,and she was holding a teeny little wand with a star on top. Every year, I placed her on the tree myself. Even now, more than forty years later, she keeps a place of honor among my holiday decorations, mostly because of the tie to my grandmother and those happy memories.

Some people have cookie baking grandmothers, others have storytelling grandmothers, others have far-distant grandmothers, or grandmothers of many other flavors. I was lucky... My Gran lived within a mile of me, and for the first nine years, I was the ONLY for me, she was the ultimate grandmother. I spent almost every weekend with her. She'd pick me up on her way home from work on Fridays, and I went back home sometime Sunday afternoon. Sometimes we cooked, sometimes we did house chores together, and sometimes we shopped or travelled. I went pretty much anywhere she did. We stayed up late, and I was allowed to rummage to my hearts content anywhere in her home. I could dial her phone number all by myself before I was 4 (and did, much to my mother's chagrin, on occasion.) She was my confidante, best friend, and staunchest ally and I learned so very, very much from her. She did things her own way, and on her own schedule. She has always been plain-speaking and direct, with a fiercely independent spirit and an immensely loving heart. She worked hard, and never ever let one of us down. She never broke a promise to me. (How many people can you say that about??) Even after my brother and cousins arrived, she still managed to make each of us feel special. (Don't tell any of them, but I'm still the favorite... or better yet, ask any of them... I'd be willing to bet each of them thinks they held that spot!)

Maya Angelou wrote, “The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.” I think for most of my family, my grandmother has been that "safe place". She's 93 now, and in failing health. The goal now is to take care of her in the way she's taken care of all of us for so long.