Monday, October 11, 2010

The Keeper of Childhood

Many things come to mind when I think about my childhood, but there is one person that actually holds all these memories in the pockets of her gardening frock - my grandmother.  While searching through my old writing samples from college one thing became evident to me - my granmother and her house hold the key to my childhood.  Perhaps because it was the only lock that never EVER changed.

I remember nearly all the details of my grandmother's house, including the secret hiding spot in the yard.  My grandmother's face, her thick German accent, her ever present love is what created "childhood" for me.  Her life was hard, but she was soft and kind.  She survived World War II in Germany with no food, no permanent home and a toddler and an infant and she did it alone.  I cannot imagine surviving in the face of these daunting obstacles.  Her strenghth is astounding to me.

Last week, I came face to face with the end of my childhood.  I flew down to South Carolina to say goodbye to my dying grandmother.  It's hard to look at what life has left her with, stripped of her autonomy, mobility, and her health, but then I looked closer.  When she was awake, she was alert and funny and brave.  She was not lost; childhood was not lost.  I spoke to her yesterday and she seems to be rallying.  Her voice sounded full of life again.  She tells me not to be sad or fearful of death because there is just no sense in getting upset about the natural progression of life.  I truly don't think she has a single regret about her life.  It's really not hard to admire someone like that.

The person who gave me the freedom to love and hope, dream and also fail - that is my grandmother.  That is my childhood wrapped in that warm and somewhat shy smile.  I'm not sure at any moment whether there will be a next time to say goodbye, but now I will try to hold onto her wisdom when the time comes.  I will not lose her just as my childhood cannot be lost because it existed.   I am the person I am because of her.  I will always be hiding in the fort in the front yard, watching her weed her garden, drinking deep the smells of her kitchen.  I will always remain a version of my past the same way I, as her granddaughter, will live as the continuation of her life.  I am damn priviledged to carry her blood in my veins.

So here's to grandparents, who hold childhood in constant freeze frame and remind us that while life keeps ushering us forward, it is truly a gift to remember where we all started. 

1 comment:

  1. Youu really have a gift E-mo. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.