She was a character (You might enjoy two former posts Mad-e-lyn and Too Big for My Britches )
|Madelyn, my grandmother and her youngest daughter, my Aunt Lana.|
Granny was full of spit and vinegar. Opinionated. And believe me she thought her opinions were the gospel truth. Her point of view was the plumb line for everyone and everything around her and sometimes my choices and decisions didn’t match hers. Did I ever feel her heat then!
Granny was widowed early in life. Never married again and lived quite a bit of her widowed life alone. She maintained and ran the farm by herself—leasing land for crops and selling cattle. Granny didn’t drive, but she was fiercely independent in such an odd and unconventional manner.
Years ago I would pack the van and my girls and we would make the long and winding drive to her house. The girls often got carsick, and felt quite green by the time we reached my grandmother’s road. We would see the house before we got there: an old white farm house with black shutters and a wide, deep front porch. It sat on a low, rolling hill, and her yard was full of trees and flowers. Granny’s house was always immaculate, and of course the kitchen was the center and the hub regardless of who her company was. Perhaps that is why my own home tends to be that way now (not immaculate, mind you. I have never been able to manage that particular skill).
We all have idiosyncrasies. We have quirks and funny habits that our families tease us for and sometimes even playfully mimic. My grandmother had several. For some reason I just couldn’t get my mind wrapped around her idioms and her language and what she meant by either. My girls and I would tolerate this. Much to my dismay I now realize that I encouraged the tolerance rather than set an example for acceptance and respect. But I was young too. And in reality I was convinced I knew a great deal more than my Granny.
Oh, that’s a funny thought now.
When we would arrive she would throw her arms and hands up in the air and a smile would break out on her face. And she would exclaim, “Lord! Lord, have mercy. My children. My children. Oh, my children.” And then she would grab each one of us and squeeze and pat really hard, almost as if she couldn’t contain herself. My girls would smile politely and endure the whole greeting episode because, of course this was Mom’s eastern Kentucky grandmother.
But there was one thing she said and did that has remained with me all these years. Granny would pull us to herself and press her cheek against ours and her voice would lower, almost to a whisper, and she would say,
“Oh, it heals me. It heals me.”
I didn’t understand. I wasn’t exactly sure what or whom she was addressing. And my girls were even more confused than I was.
This would happen several times in the course of our visit. Random times. Then we would leave; we would say our goodbyes and she would stand on the cement back porch and then follow us to the end of the sidewalk. Always as I backed the van out of the driveway there would be tears in her eyes and she waved until we were far down the road.
Through the years that phrase has haunted me. Yes, that is the correct word. At random times, in unexpected places I have remembered my grandmother’s words and tone and gestures. And instead of tolerance I now remember them with a deep fondness.
God tends to bring all things full circle.
I am no longer a young mother. I am a grandmother now. I am called Noni (long o). I have two grandsons: Elijah and Judah. They are the beautiful sons of my two oldest daughters. They were born in September thirteen days apart. They are at wonderfully delightful ages. I see them at least once a week, and I often get to keep them overnight.
|Elijah, on left. Judah, on right.|
They reach for people now. They take your face in their hands and give open mouth cheek-plant kisses. They talk and gurgle and coo. They laugh and smile. They play peek-a-boo and high-five and pull hair and climb up your body when you hold them. They are alive, warm and real.
Several weeks ago my grandmother’s words came back to me. I spent time with both boys during the week snuggling and cuddling with them. Both boys pressed their little faces up against mine and then put their heads down on my shoulder and fell asleep—heavy, warm and solid in my arms.
Oh my. I am blessed.
And I understood my grandmother’s words. Or at least I gained a more profound comprehension of the idea of them. I am not sure she could have explained exactly what she meant. But that day I experienced with the boys the feeling she must have had when we came to see her and for a few brief moments she pressed her cheek against ours.
We brought her hope. And hope heals.
I even said it aloud to Elijah and Judah. I whispered it to my grandsons. I pressed the boys to my cheek and spoke my grandmother’s words—it heals me. It heals me. Finally, I understood. I thought I would be embarrassed. Briefly it crossed my mind that my girls would think their mama had reached way too deep into her roots. But they didn’t, or at least they had the grace not to comment aloud. I realized it didn’t matter if they did.
God offers hope and healing in the most unexpected and unorthodox ways.
In Elijah and Judah I feel the movement and expansion of our family. A new generation—full of promise, potential and purity. And this hope often brings a healing balm to the rough and wounded places in a family’s DNA.
All things encompassed in these compact little boys cries hope. Their birth and growth signals that the family is beginning yet again. They offer another chance. Another beginning.
Another time to get more right. Another time to be more intentional. Another time to make more time. Another time to be patient. Another time to offer grace. Another time to laugh. Another time to forgive. Another time to set chores aside. Another time to enjoy. Another time to choose. Another time to love.
And all these other times lend to healing.
God is so good. I bless him for bringing idiosyncrasies full circle.
Lord! Lord, have mercy. My children. My children.
Someday, I am quite sure, Elijah and Judah will tolerate their Noni’s idiosyncrasies. They will just shake their heads and whisper to each other, Here she comes. She’s going to hug us and not let go. She’s going to say things that seem like a different language. She’s going to do that funny little dance.
And I am going to laugh because God will bring it all full circle.
Granny would have loved these little boys—her great, great grandsons. She probably would have squeezed too hard and too long, but it would have been deeply rooted in love. The boys would have wiggled and tried to get away, but my grandmother would have had her momentary healing.
I certainly have.
**Photos of Elijah and Judah taken by Rae Rector Photography. The photographer and owner of this company is my daughter, Katherine. She is Elijah's mama.