A young girl sits upon the bench, leaning slightly forward. Her cape is white wool and illumnated by the glow from the slowing burning fire. I smell oak and hear the hissing sound it makes as it warms the room. The girl of about thirteen removes her hood and it falls in soft folds around her shoulders. Her hair is cropped, all one length to just below her small ears – it is the color of burning flames. Freckles cover her soft complexion.
I know in a moment searching her eyes, the color of a lake on an ice blue winter morning, this is my Grandmother. I know from old photos, brown with time. Her hands are folded, held tightly together in her lap.
I don’t know how to address her, this child girl who is my father’s mother. I want to run and embrace her. I am afraid she will disappear once again into the flicking shadows on the wall behind her.
I watch as she gently takes my hand. The warm love flows through my body, which I miss deep in the recesses of my heart.
Words are necessary – our eyes meet. I ask her where she has been. I tell her how much I miss her. I tell her she was the constant in my life, you always knew she loved you. I thanked her for teaching me the art of sewing. For making my clothes long before I could sit at the treadle machine that belonged to her mother. Black, shiny shoes come to mind, as each Easter and Passover occurred. New ones always appeared upon my feet, along with white Buster Brown socks. I thank her for the summer trips I took, tooling in a color box, green rambler. How special they made me feel – just the two of us.
I know I am running out of time. She takes a small box from the pocket of cape. It’s wrapped in white tissue and tied with a yellowing bow. I unwrap it carefully and find one black shoe, cracked with age. Tears are streaming down my face as I hold the shoe to my cheek.
She begins to speak – I came to you as that of a child of thirteen. The reasons are many, but most important is I want you to embrace your inner child. Acknowledge her presence. She needs you to accept her and all her mistakes. You can learn so much from her – who you were, who you are and where you might be going. She points to your future – the first step is acceptance. Listen to her whispers. Calm her fears and guide her into the woman she so longs to be.
I make this promise to an older woman who now sits on the bench. I give her a book, tied with twine. These are stories, my stories. Contained in the pages are the contents of my life.
Ms. Lovelace ( Patricia )
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