Many thanks to Mrs. Chili for inspiring me to post this simple piece I wrote a year and a half ago when my grandmother died.

 

In memory of my grandmother..

 

As a young girl, it was always such a special time to come to New England. There is something almost magical here, tucked away from the rest of the world, where pink and orange sunsets swirl above the still blue expanse of the bay.  It’s the kind of place you can go to talk to God, a place where a silent snowfall fills your heart with soft melodies, a place where you can make friends with a downy woodpecker and your grandmother at the same time. 

 

Each time I arrived at my grandparents’ home nestled between ancient farmhouses and rolling fields, I knew an adventure was about to present itself.  There were imaginary pirates to capture from a weathered rowboat in her pond, expeditions to search for beavers beyond the lazy cattails and, when the courage was mustered, a hunting safari with my younger brother to slay imagined beasts that ruled the 37 wooded acres along the back of my grandparents’ property.  But the most precious memories were with my grandmother, studying horseshoe crab babies in plastic tubs, introducing myself to the birds outside her picture window, and proudly accompanying her on the golf course to pretend I was more interested in her swing than the squirrels that made their homes in the trees along the green.  I looked forward to the times when she would invite me to the barn to feed her racing pigeons.  The cloud of weightless, white feathers and stench of mothballs would engulf us as we stepped into the haze of yellow sunbeams that filled the musty, wooden stalls.  The birds seemed to greet us with an excited chorus of pecking and cooing.  Sometimes my grandmother would take me along in the cab of the old pick-up truck to release the pigeons for practice flights.  I remember asking her, “Gram, how do they know where home is?”  She chuckled as she opened the latch on the next wired cage, “How do you know where home is?”

 

I never answered her question aloud, partly because I was still a little puzzled, but mostly because the answer seemed irrelevant in that silent moment there alone with my Gram on a dewy New England morning.  But since my grandmother passed away this December, I’ve revisited that conversation in my mind many times, searching for truth in the memory of her smile.  And while I’m uncertain what the answer is, as I sit here on the steps of her splintered porch, I cannot help but feel I’m home.  

 

The other day, after the December snow had freshly covered my grandmother’s well-manicured lawn, I walked alone in her old barn thinking of her and her feathered friends.  The stalls are empty now.  The only evidence of pigeons that remains is the never-ending rows of faded blue and white championship racing certificates that line the splintered walls.  I can almost hear the pigeons coo, though, in the silent, stale air.  And I can feel her there, all around me, still teaching me with her questions. 

 

The days I spent with my grandmother before her passing were a precious gift.  Even surrounded with all the busy nurses and plastic tubes, the peace and strength reflected in her eyes took me back to that foggy morning when her smile was the only answer I needed.  Even when speech failed her in the final hours, those fierce blue pools never wavered.  As I sat by her bedside, cradling her soft, small hand in mine, I watched her leave this life overflowing with love, fearless, and without regret. 

 

I knew then that she was going home. 

 

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