Friday, March 03, 2006

Magic

I was so blessed to have all four of my grandparents when I was growing up. I also had the good fortune to know two of my great grandmothers, both known as Grammy. My grandparents were an anchor when the rest of life spun out of control. They affirmed me and loved me unconditionally and encouraged my creativity. But my one Grammy, she was magic.

I am the oldest of the great-grandchildren and my memories of Grammy are markedly different from the generation before me. By the time I came along, Grammy was a widow and no longer lived in the farmhouse that was the family homestead. It had become too much for her to tend to and so she sold the land to her church, which wanted to erect a new building. My grandparents converted their second floor into an apartment for her and the farmhouse was razed to make way for the church. The older generations all have fond memories of the farmhouse. I have only seen pictures.

My memories of her dwellings are of the tiny second floor apartment. I grew up only a mile away from my grandparents and spent a lot of time visiting them at their house. A visit to Nana and Grampop’s was never complete without a trip upstairs. After card games with Nana or a number of songs on Grampop’s guitar I’d start to get the itch. The magic would pull me. Nana could see it in my eyes before I ever said a word, ‘Go on, climb the wooden hill to Grammy’s.’

I’d wander out to the hallway and stare up the steep flight and run my hand along the old banister as my little legs climbed each step, my expectation rising as I ascended. Many times a delicious smell or the sounds of some old music I didn’t recognize would draw me along. The magic started to swirl.

I’d reach the top and see her bathroom with all sorts of fancy atomizers and powder puffs and frilly things to hide what she deemed unmentionable. To the right I’d see her open door, the portal to a wonderland. Since the apartment had been designed for her it was built to accommodate her short stature. When she welcomed me in I’d marvel at how I could reach everything! It was magic! She’d draw me into the kind of hug only a ‘pleasingly plump’ (one of her favorite phrases) farmwoman can give. My little arms would stretch around her sides and my fingers would trail up the stays in her corset. No one else I knew wore them. Surely this was more magic.

She’d settle me in at her kitchen table and give me some snack. I got milk out of a jelly jar or on occasion she’d give me some delicate china cup…more magic. The treats were always something home-baked. They were delectables no one else in the family could duplicate, because she was magic.

Once my little belly was sated the stories began. With a magic twinkle in her eyes she’d tell me of one-room schoolhouses, arsonist farmhands, horses and buggies, the great-grandfather I never knew, my grandfather’s misbehavior as a child. She could recite her school lessons from her earliest years. I had my favorite stories and poems and asked for them over and over. She could hold me spellbound all afternoon with her stories. Sometimes she’d bring out some enchanting prop to go with a story. There might be a fancy Victorian beaded purse or feather fan, crackled sepia photos with faintly recognizable faces, or a baby doll older than my grandparents. Every bit held its own magic and the magic grew when she trusted my clumsy little fingers with the treasures.

The day came when she could no longer climb the stairs to her apartment so she moved in with my aunt. She had lost most of her eyesight and her pleasingly plump frame had withered. She still managed to turn out delicious baked goods and her mind remained sharp as ever. Surely the magic was still there. Then she had a stroke from which she never recovered. During her last weeks in the hospital she drifted in and out of consciousness and was only able to make unintelligible utterances. My mother told me when I was grown, however, during what she knew would be her last visit to the hospital she had spent time at Grammy’s bedside, told her, ‘I love you’ and lingered a few moments before leaving. As my mother reached the door, the surprise of a faint reply came, ‘Love…you…too.’ One last bit of magic.

30 comments:

James Goodman said...

I...have something in my eye. Ok, very nicely written and a heartwarming tale. Just for the record, I wasn't expecting to get choked up first thing this morning. :O

But its good to learn about your grammy.

lime said...

james, given how much i respect your skill as a writer i am humbled by such praise. thank you so very much.

Gary said...

Beautifully written. You gave me 'tingles'.

Sheri said...

wow - what wonderful writing! I'm not a writer by any means but when I read something that moves me.... it must be a sign that something is done right.

Thanks for letting me meet your Grammy and experience the wonderful relationship you had with her.

Quiet Liberal said...

Lovely writing Lime!

QL

PS TAG!!! You're IT!

Sheri said...

ps - your picture of the feathered dancer (from Tuesday)is pushing your sidebar down the page. Can you make it a little smaller. Just a suggestion.

Quiet Liberal said...

Look again Limey baby!!!

snavy said...

Lime - that was beautiful!!
Wonderfully told and so very touching.

bsoholic said...

Wow. I too uh.. have something in my eye...

Jodes said...

Oh my gosh Lime, that was beautiful. I am so totally crying. I am not ashamed to say either. I am extremely emotional all the time and recently more so. How wonderful of you to share.

Bs - u r 2 funny.

lime said...

sheri, i resized the photo. let me know if there is still a problem.

gary, sheri, QL, snavy, bs, jodes.....thank you all for the kind words. she was such a wonderful and amazing woman i am glad that is comes through somehow.

Top cat said...

Lime this is beautiful and so well written.
This is one of your best IMHO.
Please save this to disc, it deserves to be saved forever.
****Four stars honey****

tc

Yasser Rahman said...

I am so touched...I lost my grandpa a couple of months ago..shared a similar relationship with him, man I am sat here crying..

*scouls*

Great piece of writing, English isnt my first language..But whoa, very very well written :)

logo said...

Dammit, Limey, you made me cry!
So sweet, and beautiful, and just...magic!

barefoot_mistress said...

Ohh sweet story! I wish I could say that my relationships with my grandparents was special, but I was given 4 grumpy ones that didnt appreciate children...oh well....

Lovely~

The Village Idiot said...

awesome memories and stories lime!

Breazy said...

okay let me blow my nose real quick so I can get on with it ... ah , much better . What a wonderful story Lime . This brought back memories of my grandparents as well . I could sit for hours listening to any of my grandparents talk about their childhoods and to this day it still fascinates me . I too was lucky enough to have known my great-grandmothers ,three of them to be exact . Thanks for stirring my memories !

crestfallendespairacy said...

I was never close with my grandparents..but I love your memories..

Love your writing!!!

http://sempiternallypreternatural.blogspot.com/

Yasser Rahman said...

Ever since I read this post, I have been thinking about my grandpa.... Thinking so much about him

Thank you Lime, thank you for bringing back memories :)

lime said...

tc, it will be saved indeed. thank you for your kind words.

yasser, so glad it could bring back happy memories for you. may they comfort you in your loss.

bare, i am sorry.

idiot. thanks:)

breazy darlin' you were so blessed as well!

mc2, glad you enjoyed

Tan Lucy Pez said...

WOW! You made me "see" your granny and you with her. This piece could and should be published. Truly.

The Zombieslayer said...

What a magical post. :)

The thing is, they lived in a magical time. Imagine getting around in horse and buggies, then suddenly cars come along. Not that long afterwards, two brothers learn how to fly. Not long after that, people take airplanes.

If you look at our inventions, they weren't as magical as the inventions she grew up with.

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Moosekahl said...

Beautiful...I too grew up with my grandparents immediately present to me. So much so that when I started kindergarten they wanted to put me in speech therapy because they didn't recognize that my "impedament" was actually just my Grandma's Maine accent. I grew out of it once I started talking with other South Dakota kids :)

Thank you for sharing the magic.

Bridget Jones said...

Wow what writing!! That post reminds me of my grandmother and mom. My grandmother taught shop to 'slow kids' in the Bronx in the early 20's. She was born just before the turn of the century. Saw the Hindenberg. Saw a man land on the moon. The change that took place during that one life was amazing, as was she. And she went pretty much like your grammy did.

I hope my mom lives forever....

lime said...

tlp, thank you very much. such kind words.

zs & bridget, my mom often said she'd wished she could have lived alongside grammy and gone from horses and buggies to the first man on the moon. the changes during that era were astounding

moose, i love that story about grandma's maine accent!

Indigo said...

The true magic is in the memories she left you. You're now passing them on to your children and just think what wonderful things they'll write years from now. Thank you so much for sharing this with us. It made me think of a some of the special moments I had with my Gran.


xxx

gloria jean said...

That is such a touching story. I had no relationships like that when I was little and I have always longed for one. Thanks for sharing a little bit of her with me.

Jericho said...

beautiful, lime ~ inspiring & moving, your words are golden here

RennyBA said...

I know I'm quite late commenting here, but want to thank you for the hint.
What a beautiful post about your Grammy - what great memories and something to keep in heart for the rest of your life and even to pass over to your children - something never ending:-)