Saturday, September 17, 2011
On my Grandmother's 91st birthday, I wanted to write her a letter, thanking her for all she has done for me, all she has meant to me -- but as I sit here, words seem so insignificant. When I was 8 years old, my parents divorced and my mother left my brother and I in the care of my father, who with two children 8 and 6 was less than equipped to handle it. I spent many weekends at my grandparents house-- many days after school many blissful moments with the one woman who would shape my life and plant seeds of worthiness that would not have enough room to sprout until now. As most children of divorced parents I held myself, the oldest completely responsible-- as a daughter of a mother who pursued her life over the lives of her children I held bitterness against her for many many years-- I wondered around rootless disconnected from everything I knew most of the time. The only memory of connectedness came from my grandparents and their undying love for me and my brother. I had great weekends at their house, weekends where every Saturday the entire family except my mother would get together, have dinner and then we would all go to 7:00pm Catholic Mass, I was shown the true aspect of devotion in these church outings. I spent the night on the floor in the living room in sleeping bags with my cousins watching Dallas, mesmerized by the beauty of the women on screen and then schooled in the ways of the world by pretending to sleep but really watching 20/20 with my grandparents. Sundays were hard because I knew I had to return to a place where I felt abandoned, deeply at the root of myself alone-- surely something was wrong with me and I'd go to school and look forward to Friday to start my weekend with my Teachers, my grandparents. My Grandmother for the 41 years I've been around is a woman of strength, perseverence and fierce love of her family-- these are the qualities that I hold sacred to me, these have been my gifts from her. When I became pregnant at 18, she never judged me, she prayed for me to be strong, she prayed for me to endure, and she prayed for me to be loved-- all things she radiated daily. My Grandmother loves to take care of her family, she and my grandfather would become my teachers in hospitality-- teachers in the concept that if you have enough, you have enough to share-- there was always people over to talk, to eat, to share in this oasis of worhtiness. At 12 my mother brought me to Idaho to live with her and my stepfather, I was desperate for her approval, but empty at the loss of my secret solice. My grandparents made the trip to Idaho twice per year for many years, well into their 70's to visit. When my Grandparents would get here, my heart felt safe, I knew I wasn't alone- I felt connected. On my return back to her home to say a final goodbye to my beloved Grandfather, she held me in the same church that I made my first communion in, and I told her how she saved me-- i don't think she really understood what that meant, but her love surrounds me everyday and I am reminded that every action I take needs to involve strength, perseverence and fierce love and that being welcoming is a virtue that many don't share-- she helps me understand that in order to feel connected, you need to be connected to something bigger to a love where you are loved-- As I look back, she was my first spiritual teacher, the holder of my light-- she kept my light bright in times where many kids feel dark, dim and worthless. I know that God gave her to me to show me what my parents were not capable of, I know that she and I are connected always, and when I have the opportunity to plant seeds in someone I hope I take the time to understand that each day, every person we meet, may need their light held as well.