Wednesday, June 11, 2008
7: Dear Grandma
Last week I received a package from you, and this alone, the brown wrapped bundle, was such a surprise. What is it about mail that can bring the brightest joy? And why has everyone lost the art of writing a letter? Let's keep bringing it back together, OK?
And what is it about the art of the perfect gift? Inside the shoebox was a ziplock: three bunches of bulbs, your handwriting on them: wine, wine, orange. Orange, I think, anyway. The last was faded a little.
Yesterday my husband and I planted those new bulbs in our front yard. We spent the early evening pulling away weeds: dandelions, creeping charlie, the refuse from last autumn when the roses and black eyed susans faded. We found spots for them nestled between the bleeding heart, the delphinium.
After, Ryan helped pull a dozen splinters from my wrist, bandaged my thumb where a blister burst after mowing the lawn. He takes care of me, and I appreciate that. I think we've got a good marriage, and I hope it continues, is as good as yours with Grandpa. I've always admired your partnership with him, but you know that already. Witnessing love that strong after any number of years, let alone sixty-three, is remarkable. Is beautiful.
And beyond that, even more specifically, I often think of how much I hope I can be as remarkable a woman, or just a fraction, somehow, as you are. You are so patient, so kind. You know laughter, you are giving, you open up your arms and let us in. You are feisty, you are politically involved and proud, and our values are very much the same. You can spend an afternoon and an evening, reading, rooted to your chair. You spent your career in education. You parented my father, a man I love very much, and he's turned out to be a good person too. Your home is peaceful, a place where the calm allowed me to quit smoking so many years ago, a place whose memories take me back to childhood, to lightning bugs, the willow tree, the smell of the lake, chasing cousins in the tall grass, picking vegetables and fruit from your garden.
And now here I am, working on my own garden, my husband by my side. I mingle your earth, the earth from that summer childhood, with the earth here, this place becoming my home. You are a part of me, and I am grateful for that. Feeling that earth between my fingers, seeing it under my nails--I know love, then. I know love, and hope, and I think of those bulbs, of what might sprout. I think of the way we pass parts of ourselves on to our children: patience, kindness, love. I hope I've got those things in me to give. I hope I can pass them on too.
And this morning, I put peonies in the ground.