20 May 2011
My grandmother's house has been a deeply important place to the current generations of my family. It has been the place of gathering for my aunts, uncles, cousins, my parents and sister. Spouses and significant others have joined us there for over a decade, some also leaving in divorce and death. But they were always welcome, which was understood by all. For a group of people with both loud and sensitive personalities, many hurts and wrongs would be put aside for the sake of our assembling together in my grandmother's home.
Looking back, I believe the success of that gathering has everything to do with my grandmother. All felt welcome because she was always welcoming. Even when death and divorce would remove some from our company, pictures lining the walls and rooms of her home preserve their memories. As new members come and celebrate holidays, birthdays, or even nothing in particular, their picture is taken and their memories join the others--never to be removed. If not on the walls, their photographs appear in albums in the drawers and on the shelves, but no one is ever forgotten.
As one who has poured repeatedly over those glossy memories and tried to piece them together into a true story, I've thought about the woman who has taken care of them so well. My love for her deepened as I thought about the goodness of her heart, and how that has strengthened and unified our family. As the members of our family have grown older and their circumstances have changed, we don't gather together the way we did when I was young. I miss that very much, and I wonder now what will happen when she retires and moves away as she plans to do.
I've given that some thought, and I've realized that my grandmother's kindness and generosity, the peace she lives by, is what invited her children to see her, and to treasure their relationships with her. As I grow older, I hope to offer the same thing to my children and grandchildren. It's the best way I know to have my grandmother's example come alive to them in ways they will never forget. For a woman worth remembering in a home I have always loved, it's the least I can do.