I always feel like writing, just not always what I should be.
What’s playing right now? Ani diFranco, Cloud Blood from To the Teeth
It’s on o’clock on Easter. It’s snowing hard outside and the cat is glued to the window to watch. I have a ton of German homework to do and Eastlight isn’t going to edit itself, but I’m distracted this early afternoon by thoughts about heroes, specifically my heroes.
I’m trying to expand the page I have on myspace.com and they ask for heroes. I quickly noticed that most of mine were women. Most of my favorite authors are women. Most of my favorite musicians are also women. The pattern is inescapable. Women are a tremendous influence on my life. That brings me back to Easter, which brings me back to Spring, which brings me back to my grandmother.
Her birthday was April 2nd. She died in the month of May some years ago. I’ll never forget that spring. Grandmother died the Sunday before finals started. My grandfather, on the other side, died the week before mid-terms. I started the semester with a flu so severe they put me on an IV for dehydration. Needless to say, it was not a stellar term for my academic record.
My grandmother got me. Not completely. I was a very weird kid after all. But she tried. She encouraged my creativity, saving me cereal boxes and panty hose eggs to build spaceships with. (The eggs made the absolute best escape pods). She bought me Star Wars action figures and let me play in her private bathroom, where the bright yellow carpet made for a great alien landscape. Okay, she spoiled me a lot. She let me build a toy city in her spare room. Comprised of lego bricks, plywood, discarded bits of furniture and bits of junk, it was my finest childhood creation. She let me be a world builder. When I set up my Ewok village in a pot of dirt with real plants for trees, she crocheted me strings of green for vines. I could always raid her spice rack for magical ingredients.
My grandmother was once a violist and when her tutor/fiancé left her for California and a symphony job, she took it hard. My grandfather wooed her and she was honest with him that she needed time to heal. Their marriage lasted over fifty years, until her death. She always loved music.
My grandmother was a wonderful cook and while I have copies of all of her recipes, I have no skill for baking her cinnamon rolls or cakes. I practice sometimes, in her memory, but it never tastes the same and it never will. There is no way to bake in the here and now and mix in the ineffable qualities that only a childhood memory can contain.
My grandmother and I did not agree about religion or politics but we did not argue. I think I chose the exact right age to move out of state, before my adulthood could ruin our ideal of what our relationship had been when I was a child. Her faith was not something she proselytized about to me. I felt it was sincere in the way she did not feel the need to announce it.
My grandmother was a poet. She typed these little religious poems out years ago, in courier typewriter font and put them away. But we kept discovering them, so she did not hide them too hard. She was embarrassed by them, as she was by her proper first name, Ruby.
I miss her all the time. I miss her strength. And she was very strong. I never saw her shy from a burden, hard thing, or task in her life. I miss her letters, most of all. They came too rarely and I did not call nearly as often as I should have.
I do not have a bad thing to say about my grandmother, though my siblings and parents can find a few. My grandmother encouraged me, took pride in me, loved me, and she was one of my heroes.