My grandmother is 92 and to me she is amazing, beautiful, exceptional and a source of two very precious qualities which have been unwavering treasures throughout my life; joy and unconditional love.
We have our differences and sometimes our differences are extreme. Voices have been raised on a subject or two, however, in the course of 48 years they amount to no more than a few seconds. That dynamic of relationship has been, and is, priceless; and it is also something of a miracle as we are both opinionated and can be a bit hot headed.
On those rare times where we have disagreed it turns out that neither one of us can keep a wall up to the other. No matter what the situation the love between us is constant, powerful and unchanging. My sense is that a grandparent grandchild relationship holds this possibility more than any other, not that it is by any means guaranteed.
My maternal grandparents were the greatest gift of my childhood. At the age of three, through external circumstances, which entailed moving overseas, I was separated from them for six years. It broke my heart and theirs. They were my safety net, my sense of home and source of magic, excitement and delight. No other place gave me the sense of being cherished and as valued as I did when in their embrace.
Re-uniting with them was the best thing in the world. As a child I would plead with them endlessly for more and more stories resulting in frequent very late nights by the fireside. They seemed to love telling them as much as I enjoyed hearing them or maybe they just indulged me for all the missing years. They inspired the Delight Makers first project, A Thousand Grandparents & Bed Time Stories. Having known the pain of not having my grandparents and also the joy of having had the delight of their love, generosity, time, attention and inspiration, I could very much see the value of such precious moments, and very much wish that all children could have the experience that I had.
I was devastated at losing my grandfather, even though I was 35 at the time, the child in me was torn apart and it completely shook that sense of there being a forever haven in the world. My luck however has brimmed over and I am blessed, at 48, to still have my rather wonderful grandma. Although she is pretty independent, living alone and still driving, her days of adventurous travel are now done with company. So we venture out together for drives in the country to find an old English pub, have a lunch and usually reminisce … I drive, together we journey, and stories are still told.
To me she is a treasure worth sharing and this blog is from my precious time with her. It may bring home wonderful memories for you or, if you still have the opportunity, it may inspire you to spend time with yours.
She is beautiful. She has a light as though there were a halo around her, a bright aura perhaps. Her father must have sensed it as he called her Viola Queen. I am not saying that she is an angel or any kind of good girl, she is in fact quite outspoken, fierce spirited, tempestuous and on the whole does not hold back; given to saying “hit first, apologise later” … a wisdom she holds her father accountable for apparently. She is calmer these days, a little less volatile; her nineties have now tempered her with a drop more patience, just a drop … others in my family may of course see things differently.
Today our relationship is stronger, perhaps through the shared loss my mother, her daughter and best friend, 7 years ago. I look at her and listen to what she says and how she says it and it leaves me to wonder what we inherit from our relatives. How much is passed on unconsciously, how much do we take on by choice and through admiration, which of our ancestors genes have been activated in us? Do we inherit unfinished karma or are all our patterns our own? How well and how clearly do we see our closest loved ones and how much is projection? I don’t have the answers yet.
When I see her, without any internal dialogue and when no mind is judging, I am left seeing a radiance of incredible light and joyousness, independence and vulnerability. The love I feel has no words and is almost too big to feel as it lessens my sense of independence and increases my own vulnerability.
I ask myself if there is still any trace of protection in me, do I hold back any love? Are the memories of my inner three year old still here, terrified of experiencing the pain of losing her again? Something may be there, a sense that if there were nothing to separate us she would vanish again (that’s how the 3 year old remembers it), and then the only place I would see her again would be in my heart, in remembering. In theory that should be OK, but the three year old in me can’t face that again and I am not sure the older me can either.
The story that I used to ask her to tell me over and over again was The Little Matchstick Girl. This is a silent animated Disney version, not as good as hers of course. I still have to persuade her to tell it to me again, next time on camera.
Photographs by Lynda Kelly : Finding Grace
About the The Delight Makers : This is the first time a charity has been created to unite all of the world’s wisdoms … ancient and modern, spiritual and scientific … and share them through joy, art, beauty, love and celebration.
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