― C.S. Lewis
There are many voices in my head. No I do not talk back to them or with them. They are the little sayings, teachings if you will, passed to me from generations before, that I have remembered most of my life. Many of these voices have no body to them now; but they have been reincarnated in me. Leaving Karma. So begins a series of short blogs called The Voices In My Head. Enjoy :)
My dads mother was named Anna. Of all the people in my life she enters my mind the most. She fascinated me and for this fascination left me with many life lessons. The stories I heard of her and my grandfather life while they were young, growing up, and married are sketchy at best. I learned what I know of her, and her life, by watching her and listening to her. A true role model.
Anna's house was full of memories. There was a china cabinet crammed full with small items collected through out her life. Valuable only to her. I remember watching her dust and polish them with loving care almost every time I visited her. She had a shoebox, kept in a closet with a dark wooden door, next to the china, cabinet full of greeting cards sent to her, over decades, by family and friends near and far. The fireplace mantle in the front sitting room had photos, small dolls and watches under glass, a chiming mantle clock, and every holiday decorations that she had treasured for a life time, sometimes more than one lifetime. Entering any of these rooms unattended by an adult as a child was forbidden, but she made sure to take frequent visits with me.
The furniture through out the whole house was always the same. Polished, clean, and comfortable. She had a prized feather bed with ropes holding it in place, not a box spring. Boxes full of jewelry, all valuable to her which she passed on to me and my cousin of the same age.
My Aunts room was still the same from when she had moved out decades before which we were allowed to look, from the doorway, in awe, at the desk where my aunt, one of the first five women to attend Wayne State University's Law school in her time, the first female lawyer in our family. There was a wooden banister which, as a child, I was allowed to try and slide down; even though I found that getting to the bottom was not as fun as it looked in the movies.
My Grandmother passed on cooking recipes that were passed to her. Learning these gave a new meaning to patience, a pinch of this, a smidgeon of that. From her I learned that a family recipe didn't mean that it had to stay exactly the same from generation to generation, it could be changed and improved upon, but the root always stayed the same. Her home, and make no doubts about it, it was her home, my grandfather had enormous respect for that fact, was always full of warmth and good smells.
I would sit closely next to her, snuggled under her arm on the back porch, which had been converted into a "TV" room, while she watched what ever was on the black and white TV and crocheted. She taught me how to crochet, what can only be described now as, a worm. Just a long chain which she glued two googly eyes onto to make me feel successful at my first crocheting attempt.
There were candy jars always filled on the two tables flanking the old well worn, well loved, comfy couch we sat on, which, when my dad wasn't looking, she would share with us. One jar was always filled with a sweet which was just for her, chocolate covered cherries, Mary Janes, or Chocolate covered toffee. Each of her grandchildren sneaked a piece of her candy from time to time, and she knew it.
As I grew there were no more snuggles, no more candy. She was old country and believed in showing love through strength. Which is why no one in the family new she was so ill. She struggled with undiagnosed diabetes until 2/3 of her stomach had ulcerated and had to be removed. Gone was the soft, snuggly, candy giving, warm woman. As a teen I was recruited by one of my aunts, her eldest daughter, the lawyer, to help my grandmother clean. I had watched her do this often growing up and was confident I could do what she did.
The first day, armed with a vacuum and feather duster, I entered the hollowed front sitting room where the mantle, and fireplace, took up the whole east side of the room. It was with a sense of awe and joy I entered the room, finally, unaccompanied by and adult, able to closely look at everything on the mantle; even getting to touch the precious items with could only be described with, even now, as reverence. I carefully took each item down and looked them over. I felt a happiness and joy over what each item represented. Her, her life, our family, and me.
Grandma quietly, with some difficulty shuffled in, her slippers making soft whooshing whispers on the rug. She quietly, with purpose, and a slight frown on her forehead, stood next to me at the mantle and began to carefully rearrange things back to where she had always had them. Even though I thought I had already tried so carefully to do so; she new exactly where everything belonged and how they were exactly to be positioned. Then she said to me, quietly but firmly,"A place for everything and everything in its place."
At that moment in time, and for the first time I can ever remember, still to this day, I felt irritated with her. The woman who had warmed so many recesses of my heart had disappointed me. I felt that I had failed to please her and I was crushed. It was only later, after I became a wife, mother, and soon to be grandmother, that I understood the importance of her words.
There is a place in the universe for everything and everyone. While it is important not to become so attached to anything that we cant readily give it up with kindness and compassion, what we have should be given great care, including ourselves. None of us are so strong that we don't need someone else's help sometimes. In giving someone help the helper needs to remember the strength that comes with helping. We don't help/give to give ourselves personal satisfaction, or power, but to give the other person a peace of mind, to give them strength and power. Giving help is the easy part, receiving help is something else entirely, especially for a woman who grew up during WW2 and the depression.
I think back now and remember everything my grandmother helped me learn about life. Love, patience, nurturing, respect, and I feel a sense of loss. How wonderful it would be if we could go back in time and say all the things to the people who made a difference in out lives. Then I think, she knows. What she taught is reincarnated in me. We don't have a lot but what we have is passed down from generation to generation and cared for by each generation. I don't keep everything in the same place year after year, but everything I do have, the mantle clock that was hers, some knick knacks from her china cabinet, an Antique Ukrainian doll, are kept dearly in my heart and the hearts of my sons. What she has left me, and my family, is roots, a sense of belonging. "A place for everything and everything in its place." Now I get it...
Emaho Namaste Peace out
― J.R.R. Tolkien,