Tuesday, January 13, 2015

I Had a Grandmother

I was reading some old posts and this is one of my favorites, from 2008:
"Generations come and generations go, but the earth never changes.
The sun rises and the sun sets, then hurries around to rise again.
History merely repeats itself. It has been done before.
Nothing under the sun is truly new.
We don't remember what happened in the past, and in future generations,
no none will remember what we are doing now."
Ecclesiastes 1:4, 5, 9, 11
I had a Grandmother that I met once. She lived a far way off in another country and only came to see me once when I was just a wee girl. I remember she brought me a brown jewelry box with yellow flowers on it. When you opened the bottom drawer it would play a song, "Love Story". That became Oma's song because it's the only thing I remember about her, that and the grey dress and pink cardigan that she's wearing in a photo my family has of her tucked away in a ragged edged book somewhere. I can't remember if she gave me the little dolly that lay in the top drawer, or if I put it there sometime later. It was Raggedy Ann and you know how memories have a funny way of not always staying in the right places or certain details aren't always there, but some are there really strongly, like the lighting in the hospital room when my Dad died or the jump for joy feeling I had the morning I woke up and realized I was getting married, or the smell of my babies' head when they just had a bath.

I heard a speaker recently talk about memories and how when they are remembered, they are re-stored and sometimes the memory changes by the simple act of remembering it, thinking it over and re-storing it in some other part of your brain (also why reviewing while studying makes you remember it in different ways). I suppose this would mean that memories I haven't thought of in a long time are more intact and more perfect than ones that I mull over time and again. Maybe that's why old people have such vivid memories of older days, their minds become more lucid and they go back to days gone by that they haven't thought of in a really long time.

My Oma died when I was 3. My Dad was probably really sad, but I never asked him. I think she was a really good Mama to him, even though during WWII she had to split up her kids to live with some relatives so that they would have enough food to eat. I think my Dad got to stay with her because he was born in 1940 in Europe and was just a baby. I think it would be really hard as a Mama to have to send your children away to be cared for by someone else, but you'd tell yourself everyday that is was better that they were safe and fed. I wonder how she felt? Did she lie awake at night scared and worried for them, praying that God would look after them and bring them enough to eat for tomorrow? My freezer is really full and I don't have to worry about that. Or did she worry that the Germans wouldn't invade and she wouldn't see someone she loved again, how could she not? Did her heart ache at the thought of missing their bedtime cuddles and their daily thoughts? I'd like to ask her. I wonder if she thought about what color to paint the living room. It probably didn't matter, but I still think she loved pretty things- like flowers in her window boxes and that jewelry box. She must have known that her youngest granddaughter would like something like that and keep her earrings in it even when she 37.

Was she a hearty laughing type of Grandma that hugged everyone into her ample bosom? Or a quiet, gentle spirit that just filled a room with peace and homemade cookies, like Kevin's Grandma who I got to know better than my own. What did she dream of when she was a little girl? Did she want to be a Mama to 5 children? Did she fall madly in love with her man? I like to imagine she did because he was a wonderful man. Were her questions about God the same as mine? Is He proud of me? Am I doing everything He wants for me? How can He listen to everyone at the same time? How many recipes did she have in her cupboard? And what did she cook for a meal on a special day one she knew her husband loved? I think she probably could teach me a thing or 2, or 20 about knitting and embroidery. In my mind she even knew a lot about ships because she would sit and listen to her husband at night in front of the fire tell of all the pieces they put together on the latest ship at the docks.

But how can it be that I know so little about her when she is only one generation away? Will my granddaughter know so little about me? I don't even know if she had a middle name. This is a woman who shaped my life in more ways than I'll probably know, who read stories to my father on her lap at night, taught Him about God and how to be a good, strong and courageous man. Who fed his little belly and probably cried the day he left the country for a life of his own at the age of 16. That man who gave me life and showed me love, patience, character and courage in the face of adversity. She faced some adversities I'll never know about. She had love and disappointment, hope and friendships; she made plans and worked with her hands, planted gardens and loved her children, and yet the details of it I can't ever know. Maybe she wrote some things down in some sort of flowing handwriting that I'll never recognize on the outside of an envelope. The thoughts and dreams of women can't have changed that much over 2 generations: to be productive, creative, loving, full of family and friends and love, making a difference to someone's life, being capable and fulfilled, wanting to know what you were made for, giving your heart to others. One day we'll sit and have tea, I think maybe English Breakfast, or I'll introduce her to a lovely chai blend that she never knew existed. We'll sit in a garden with lots of vines that grow up over our heads beside a little cottage by the sea. I'll thank her for her legacy of faith and love, even though the activities of her every day will never be known to me.

"For everything there is a season, a time for everything under heaven." 

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