The Gifts We Leave Behind – Grandmothers, Caterpillars and Acceptance
When we got married one of the gifts I was given was a beautiful pair of crystal candlesticks. They were quite obviously valuable, and they caught the light from every angle, to produce rainbows on the table. When I received them I even polished them up and held them admiringly, imagining what they would look like each with a burning candle atop. But I’ve never used them. I use my Grandma’s candle-holder. It’s a simple metal holder, dark grey in colour, with space for three candles, so that one is usually left empty. It doesn’t shine or glow. The wax collects and catches in various bits, mostly where it isn’t meant to. And every week when I light my candles, Grandma stands over my shoulder.
Yesterday, Grandma stood with me as I made my daughters breakfast. I was making semolina pudding, something I often stood by and watched her make as a child. As I pressed the hot pudding into the bowl with my flat oiled hand, as she used to do, for a moment I saw her old weathered hands instead of mine.
Granny puts in an appearance more often. In fact it’s usually her who arrives when I’m cooking. “Stir it or it will burn” she tells me. “Put a little water … put, put, don’t be a miser!” She’s always right of course. My mind turns to Granny when I hit one of life’s little snags/opportunities and I wish I could tell her. She has a way of approaching anything with calm, wisdom and a little mischievous humour. Once when she was staying over at our house, she slept in my room and on my table was a large jar of caterpillars that I had kept since their ailing mother moth laid their eggs in my shoe box. I must have left the lid partially open, because when my mother went upstairs to give my granny a cup of tea she quickly came back down with the message “Granny says to tell you your soldiers are marching!” I got up there to find that a good quarter of the 64 caterpillars had escaped and were heading for the hills … one had even made it half way up the bookcase, and was hanging off a large file! As I gathered them back into their jar Granny watched in amusement, sitting up in bed and drinking her tea. See what I mean? Cool, calm and collected … most other grannies would have screamed the house down.
Sadly neither of my grandmothers are still alive and every now and then I miss them terribly. I miss the story telling, the humour, the person who always made you feel like they had nothing else in the world to do than to spend their time with you. I learnt a lot from them, both about the serious things in life and the fun things too.
I like to talk about visualising what you want for your future and of course we all need to focus on mindfulness and being fully alive in the present … and doesn’t it make sense sometimes to also look back and acknowledge where we came from?
Of course everybody has had bumps and lumps in their past and some of our pasts are lumpier than others! Yet no matter what brought us to where we are now, we ARE here, and have our past to be thankful to for that. Sometimes it was loving, caring and enjoyable, and sometimes it was … well, at least you could say it was educational!
Did you get to spend time with your grandmothers? If you’re lucky enough to still have one or both, why not give them a call and let them know how much you love them. Or maybe you’re a grandmother (or even a grandfather) yourself … you know your memory lives on well after you’re gone, and your voice will be heard long after you’re there to project it. Each of us has multiple opportunities to leave our mark behind us as we progress through life, wherever we go and even when we go. Whether we touch the world community or even if our sphere of influence extends purely to our immediate family, we get to leave so many gems or grenades hidden in the sand ready to be discovered. What will you leave? The cool thing is, you get to choose!