Just Like Her

We stretched out on her bed watching Green Acres after my little one finally crashed for the night.  I listened to her giggle at Zsa Zsa’s antics, and I tried to sear the moment into my memory… the way I remember the taste of her hot blackberry jam smeared on a thick slice of buttery homemade bread when I wasn’t even 5. 

I reached over and held her hand… Played with her long, strong fingernails the way I always did.  I remembered countless nights just like this when I was a child, sandwiched between her and my Papa on their bed, my head at their feet, watching the 10 o’clock news and eating Peanut M&Ms after I’d already brushed my teeth. (To this day, Papa brings them to me late at night like a kid sharing a forbidden treasure.)

Helping “nana-great” feed the chickens.

Papa was down at the coast with some of the family, riding 4-wheelers at the sand dunes.  (Yes, you read that right.  My 80-year-old grandpa still tears up the dunes on a quad.)  Grandma and I stayed back home, talking about growing flowers and children, and hopes and hurts, the painful-beautiful past and dreams for the future.  The days were slow and long and unspeakably beautiful: watching Cora play, eating lots of berries, and just being together.  I loved hearing her stories – even the painful ones – it reminds me that I come from a legacy of strong women.  And I felt confidence swell as she told me I was a good mama, “one of the best,” she said. 

Watching Elmo.

Thank-you-Jesus, I breathe.  My life has its aches and voids, just like the rest of the world, but it has its gifts, too.  And she is one of them.  A grandma so wise, so strong, so loving, so full-of-life; I want to be just like her.  A rock in my life since I was a child, she makes me believe that I am enough for whatever comes next. 

I love this crazy-strong woman with every ounce of my being.  Her foster mother’s (but her mama-of-the-heart) gold mirror hangs in my daughter’s room.  And when I look at it, I see my face but think of grandma… as a little girl, resolute that her future would be different than her past, going to a neighbor and asking her to take her in.  I want to always have that kind of drive – a belief that what is broken can be turned into something beautiful.  An abiding trust that God has good things for me, a conviction that painful pasts don’t have to become painful futures, and the faith to take bold leaps.  And in the end, the neighbor became mama; I grew up calling her great-grandma and pray that the generosity of her spirit makes its way through the generations to me.

Icee’s and Starbucks – Grandma’s always known the ingredients to a good girl’s outing!

I’ve had a hard year – much harder than I’ve shared in this space.  Not because I’m afraid of being vulnerable, but because I am afraid of hurting others.  I haven’t yet discovered the balance and answer to that.  But this spring Grandma was in Texas and I overheard her talking to my mother-in-law.  “She’s stronger now,” she said, looking at me.

And so I became what she said.  Just like always…


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