Age Rating: 4 +
Sometimes I don't think my grandmother was actually human. Not alien, of course, but certainly super-human.
A little, tiny thing, she commanded more respect and love and attention with just a look, than was reasonable for any normal human.
She taught me how to cook, but the kitchen was hers. The entire house was, really. As well as everyone and everything in that home.
But in the kitchen, miracles happened. An old, wood burning stove, which seemed to be her favorite, surrendered its secrets and guarded recipes cheerfully and willingly, so she could delight her family daily with the sounds, and smells, and tastes of foods prepared for the gods on Mt. Olympus.
The entire home and all around it was a place of miracles, really. I never even thought to question, just as no one else did, either, to whom that home belonged. We knew, unspokenly, who gave it life and laughter and love. And a gentle quietness that commanded respect and dignity that was stronger than any steel bar.
Summer nights, swinging in the porch swing, the neighborhood quiet and dark, were transformed into a land of fairy tale castles and adventurous knights and questing warriors going forth to fight their battles.
The fireflies would come out, and winking on and off, I knew that I was living in an enchanted time. If not the time, then certainly the place. Nowhere else could I see these magic little lights except in her front yard. Nowhere else did a lonesome train whistle blowing far away, sound like anything more real than the dragons on the hunt.
Things would grow as if a magic hand had touched them. My Grandmother would plant some roses, or violets, or even the morning glory vine, threatening to become owner of the back fence; everything she touched to grow, grew as she wished. Strong, and straight, and proud, and well. She passed this magic into her family also. Sometimes I think I'm the only one that ever recognized my Grandmother for what she truly was--a gift to us.
I know that I loved her more than anything else in the whole world. I still do. She is gone now, of course, But the bond between us was so strong that it stays with me, even to this day, and has made me a better person for it.
My Grandmother never was angry. Never. I never even heard her raise her voice. She didn't have to. She loved her family too much for anger, and in turn, we loved her back that same way. But, sometimes, looking back I really do think that she was a spirit of some kind. A benevolent witch, if you will. Who else could bring the humming birds to the morning glory vine? Who else brought the summer dragon-flies humming and resting and then off, humming again? Bumble bees that didn't bite, the birds that nested in the big shade tree in the grassy front yard, little chirping cricket sounds at night? Even the ants behaved themselves and stayed outside.
There was nothing I couldn't do. If I wanted to catch frogs and bring them in, we'd study them together. If I went out and down to the river to look at the horses on the other side, she'd want to know all about them. How many, what colors, stallions, mares, foals, old young, sometimes I think she had more questions than I did. Nothing that I did was too silly or not important enough for her to stop and listen and look and allow me to share it with her.
I could tell her about the concave pits the ant lions dug and how they waited at the very bottom, hiding. Then an ant would come along, unwary, and go sliding down with grains of sand. Until, at the very bottom, the ant lion reached out with nightmare claws and grabbed the ant for dinner. Or lunch. We talked about that. Ant lions and ants and if the ant lion ate the ants, who or what ate the ant lion?
But some things she could never tell me. Or wouldn't. Which was all right, because if she didn't tell me, I knew it was something I was supposed to study and figure out for myself. Like how the entire house always stayed cool? Even in the most blistering, South Texas summer heat, the house was always a haven of cool air and quiet sounds. There wasn't any air-conditioning, of course. That was too long ago, and not necessary, anyway. Why ruin the quiet sounds of a happy home with a noisy old machine that smelled bad?
The house was never dirty or dusty. I don't know how it stayed that way. I never saw her clean anything or dust anything. I never saw anyone else do that, either. The only room that ever needed cleaning was her kitchen. But that wasn't any big chore. A few dishes, a few pots and pans, everything squeaky clean and sparkling bright, put away and on to more important things. Like wanting to know if I was still going to go fishing that week-end, or did I have enough money for the movie I wanted to see?
She would listen to me tell her about the smells down at the corner store. Hardwood floors, well waxed and clean. Barrels of things--rice and flour and potatoes. And how things looked. Like the five and dime where there was row after row after row of the brightest treasures from all over the world. And the drugstore. Smelled like iodine and alcohol and wood. Except for the soft drink counter. That always smelled like ice and milk and glass and that was another part we always had to talk about. My Grandmother always wanted me to share everything with her. And I did.
She would never criticize, or grow angry, or tell me I was wrong, or that I shouldn't have done something. Never. She wanted to know all about my life and what was in it. The piano sounds from next door--the neighbor boy practicing. The smells of grease and oil and rubber and polished metal from the volunteer fire house across the street.
What I didn't know, of course, was that my Grandmother, in her super human way, was filling me with the ideas that everything I did was important. That I could do anything I wanted to, but that I was to never damage or hurt any living thing; not from meanness or spite or anger. And I believed her. How can you not believe an angel? Especially when that angel is your Grandmother and is the one that made you strong and sure of who you were, both physically and mentally.
That strength and confidence continues to this day because an angel took the time to let me love her and took the time to love me back.