When spring breathes whisper soft on the dormant land, she awakens drowsy mayflowers from beneath the blanket of last season’s spent leaves. The tiny white blossoms shyly open to release the sweet, earthy fragrance I hold dear. It is at this very time of year that I call you, dear grandmother, back from beyond the pale so we can stroll together down the sun-dappled sandy back roads of my youth. Do you remember the annual tradition we kept? I would come early and you would be ready, dressed in a faded cotton blouse and your favorite floral apron with a wool cardigan over it to seal out the morning chill, pants pinned to fit your slender frame, and cabled knee socks slipped into worn penny loafers. Your long silvery hair would be braided and pinned up and if it were windy you would wear a blue kerchief. Your calloused hands would carry a old hand basket and the trusty, large fork to scare away any snakes that might be lurking under the leaves, not quite ready yet to scurry at the sound of our footsteps. Our mission was to gather a bunch of the first flowers of spring and place them in the tiniest, but prettiest, glass bottle we could find and place it in the position of honor on the kitchen windowsill so you might have something lovely to grace your humble life. I will always think of you when winter gives way to verdant spring and it is time for mayflowers to bloom.
I miss you, grandma, your gentle touch and voice as soft as rose petals. I am so grateful that I had you to go to, following the worn path that wound through the piney woods to your back gate. The sounds of my feet as I ran barefoot over the sandy way, watching to ensure I didn’t miss a bird calling or squirrel’s chatter, are as clear as if time melted away. Always you greeted me with open arms and a loving heart. You were my sacred island in a sometimes turbulent sea, a magical place where all my troubles dissolved and I was important and appreciated. From your soul, rich in contrast to your lifestyle, you offered up precious gifts of art, poetry, writing, traditional hand arts, and your ability to see the world through the heart rather than the eyes biased by society. I have nurtured those seeds you planted and have kept the garden tended in your absence. You may not recognize me now as I have outgrown my youthful appearance and into a grandmother myself, yet under the white wisps threading through the thinning dark locks, and beyond the crow’s feet I proudly wear… I am still your granddaughter.
I deeply desire to be a similar island to my own grandchildren. They are, however precious, scattered hither and yon around the country -- the distance too great and not a swift run down the woodsy path. I know how very lucky I was to have you those short, but sweet, eighteen years. And maybe, just maybe, when I am thinking of you then we are together again in some parallel world where memories are granted immortality.