Keeping and Building Memories (for Grandma’s birthday) 

I’m sitting here, at my desk, waiting for a disc to burn on my computer. There’s an annoying sunbeam that peaks through the top of the closed blinds that is actually welcomed. It’s been a while since it’s irritated my eyes while I tried to work. I’m sipping my morning cup of tea. There’s a little Lipton tag hanging down the side of my mug. And I’m thinking about my grandma. Every time I see Lipton tea I think of her, but especially today.

It’s her birthday.
98 years ago Ethyl Louise was born.

And when I think about her birthday it always makes me think about a birthday 93 years later – when Ellabelle Louise was born. I have come to closely link the two in my head. Because of them name, of course, but also because I believe my grandma is the reason we both survived that day in July almost 5 years ago. I don’t believe in angels or heaven, but I do believe those we love don’t leave us. I know our souls go somewhere beyond here and, on that day, my grandma told that doctor to skip her shower and get to the hospital as fast as she could. I also know that she was holding onto my baby to keep her safe until the doctor could get her out earthside. I’m pretty sure Josh thinks I’m crazy for thinking this, but I feel it in my heart. Regardless of it’s true or not, it makes me happy.

I mourn my grandparents never being able to meet my babies, on this side of the universe anyways. I know how much they would’ve loved them because I know how much they loved me. It amazes me to think that this woman I only had the privilege of knowing for 19 years had such an impact on me. Honestly, as sad as it makes me, there’s so much I don’t know about her and her life. So many things I would want to know now especially since I’m older. But that doesn’t change how she made me feel and her love still lives inside me today.
I want to be that kind of person, leave that kind of legacy. I want my children and grandchildren to love me as fiercely as Ethyl’s did. I want my children to have those kinds of bonds to their grandparents. I want them to leave such an impression on them that when it’s almost 10 years later, they still ache from missing them. I want them to build memories so solid that they can’t see or hear or smell certain things without thinking about them and smiling.

For me, it’s Lipton tea, ginger, blowing kisses at the door, and her smell. I don’t know exactly what she wore, but I was in Yankee candle store one day and lifted a darker pink candle to my nose and it stopped my breath. They call it “Rose of Morocco.” To me, it flooded me with memories of my grandma.

For my grandpa, I feel a squeeze when I see Pepsi cans, cocktail shakers, dum dums and horse races. Josh tells me about his Mamaw every time we hear a tree frog, and he brings up his Grandma whenever he sees liver and onion on a menu or bran muffins in a store. He tells me stories about cigar smoke and orange Gatorade when reminiscing about his grandpa.

For my kids, it’ll be completely different. Maybe it’ll be the smell of almond extract from baking with Oma every Christmas. Or peppermint because she has an unhealthy obsession with it. Maybe they’ll associate the click and fuzziness that happens for a second when an old radio gets turned on with Opa, just like I do. It’s probably more likely they’ll associate Opa with Good and Plentys, whipped cream, and suckers (much like I do with my grandpa). Maybe it’ll be the smell of the grill that takes them back to their Papaw’s house, and maybe whenever they see fuzzy socks they’ll think of Mamaw (in fact, they already do).

Memories are all we leave behind. It’s really hard to take in the enormity of that (for me anyways). I hope I create such loving memories with my children that they pass that love on for generations. Someday I’ll do the same for my grandchildren.

My grandmother spent 88 years here on earth. That’s a lot of life. I only got about 13-14 years of memories I can actually remember out of that. It was enough though. If you love big enough and strong enough, even the smallest bit is enough.

I love you and miss you, Grandma! Happy birthday! 🎂

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