Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Sweet Summer Day

One sunny day many summers before Alzheimer's ultimately took away her memories, my sister and I visited with our beloved paternal grandmother.

She showed us countless pictures, cards and letters from family members we had not seen in many years. It seemed to me on that day that she already had a premonition of what was to come. She was holding on so tightly to anything that would preserve her precious memories of the family she treasured above all else.

She seemed to know long before she was diagnosed with this illness, what her destiny would be. Her life was entirely devoted to giving her all to her husband and nine children. Her pride and joy were her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. An inner voice was telling her to enjoy those memories and share them with those she loved so that they would not be lost forever.

I've often thought back to that day. It was just the three of us, so our visit was quite and unhurried. We listened as she talked about ironing stacks of blue jeans for her boys. She told us about getting up early in the morning and starting the fire in the stove in the kitchen so that when everyone got up, the kitchen would be warm for them and breakfast would almost be ready.

I'm so glad I thought to ask her where we came from. She looked at me as if no one had ever asked that of her before. "Where did our people come from? Do you know which country?" She smiled and shared the story of how her grandfather stowed away on a ship with only a few coins in his pocket and no knowledge of English. He was only fourteen years old when he and a sixteen-year-old uncle set off on the greatest adventure of their lives aboard a ship bound for the new world. They left behind their whole family in Norway, knowing they might never see them again, to find a better life in America.

Many years have passed since that day and our sweet visit with our grandmother. She just turned ninety-six years old a few days ago. She no longer knows who we are or even who she is. My sister and I are getting older too. I wanted to share this story with all those who descended from this wonderful lady so that you may share it with your children someday.

Rest in peace dear sweet lady.


Marian said...

What a lovely story, of true life. Hold our family and listen to them, and yes pass it on. For life is but a mist appearing for a little while, and then disappearing.

Anonymous said...

I am just finding you now and enjoying all the posts. This one in particular is special as I remember my own grandmother. This has given me the idea to get the albums of family and friends' photos up to date but especially with information on each. I may not remember the face but someone will tell me that this was my daughter at 10 years of age! Many thanks for this.