Karla’s Korner: Dusty Memories
She was strong, tough as nails, sometimes loud, opinionated and on occasion ornery. She was funny, faithful, determined and if she loved you she loved you with everything she had; she loved me. She was my grandmother. Today (June 1) would have been her 93rd birthday; oh how I miss her.
I remember how she and my grandfather were always there for us, not spoiling us with things, rather taking time with us, talking, sharing stories or a piece of homemade “rock candy”. “Just take one” she would say, you can have more another day.” In the winter months you could always find her in her rocking chair in my Pap’s little workshop crochet needles in hand creating a blanket for someone she cared about. All of us got one for Christmas over the years, as did neighbors and friends. She spent countless hours in that rocking chair leaving him only to go in to fix a meal, fold laundry or make bread. If we were lucky we would arrive when she pulled a fresh loaf out of the oven and smear it with real butter. Once in a while she would surprise us with cookies, lemon crackers or banana bread.
Now that I am grown with children of my own I sometimes find myself wishing for just one more day, one more time I could hear her call me “Karla Anne” and finish it with some sort of instruction as to what I should do or where I should go. Our last conversation was just two weeks after her birthday; I had no idea she would be gone so soon. I listened on the phone as she shared that her time was very short and told me all of the things she wanted me to know. She loved me “beyond words” and never had to worry about me because she knew I was in good hands with my husband. She instructed me to make sure my children knew how much she loved them, to never stop visiting my grandfather in the nursing home and not to cry when she was gone. I kept most of those promises, the crying part; well I couldn’t keep that one.
But, like everything else she did her death was on her terms. For nearly two years she kept her illness a secret. Never telling any of us that she knew something was wrong because as she put it “if I told you all you’d hover and I don’t like hovering…” Stubborn to the end, she embraced death the way she lived life, head on with no fear. We buried her in her pajamas the day after she died as per instructions because she didn’t want a big fuss “nobody has time for funerals and crying” she said.
As I quietly remember my sweet, stubborn, beautiful grandmother a song comes on my playlist that in some odd way reminds me of her. “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten is about fighting through the tough stuff in life and while we may not be big and mighty we can still make a difference. “Like a small boat on the ocean sending big waves into motion, like how a single word can make a heart open, I might only have one match but I can make an explosion…” For my grandmother life was not easy but she never stopped fighting. She made big waves in her world when she became an unwed mother choosing to keep the baby and not move away. Eventually she would meet and marry my grandfather and have three more children
My grandmother was a small boat on the ocean of life, but she made big waves in the lives around her and as I plod through life sometimes feeling as if what I do isn’t all that grand I remind myself of the little things she did that made a great impact on me. Sharing a glass of sweet tea on the porch seemed like an ordinary thing back then but now I know that it was so much more. Those times together are now the memories tucked away in my heart like an old novel on a dusty bookshelf. Once in a while I make time to blow off the dust and re-read a few chapters. It’s those memories that soften the hard knocks of life keeping me humble in knowing that her spirit lives on in me and those she loved so much.
Whatever it is that brings you joy no matter how small it may be I encourage you to do it. Life comes around just once and it’s up to us to make those big waves, speak the words that can open someone’s heart and live authentically. My grandmother was such a simple woman yet the impact her simplicity had on my life is immeasurable. Eleanor Roosevelt once said “People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. This is how character is built.” Be honest. Be courageous. Be authentic. Make memories. Be happy and write your own fight song…
I think we all need a touch point a place we can go to be inspired. Karla is my children’s teacher, a good friend, and a person with a heart of gold. I hope that her words will inspire you to do more. We are only as good as the people we surround ourselves with. It is important to listen with your heart and proceed with your eyes open. Enjoy!
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