Dec 10, 2009

What Voices Do You Remember From Your Past?

My grandmother was born on December 10, 1900. Her ancestors were Scots-Irish, although I doubt she knew that. She collected names and dates and photographs, and I inherited those and traced the family tree.

She died in 1977. We called her grandmother by her own request--not grandma or worst of all in her mind, granny. (I still remember my little cousin Jenny getting in trouble for that one!) The title "Grandmother" fit her because she was old school, not a cuddly granny-type.

I remember her voice and some of the things she said, not all of them nice. But in her defense she suffered from cancer during a time when there was little treatment available. Old people can be grouchy. Sometimes they have reason.

A few years after she died I had a dream. I was standing in front of her like I so often did for photographs. She was wearing her usual large fake pearl necklace and earrings and a homemade dress. She was an excellent seamstress, a skill I didn't inherit. But in the dream she was missing her usual stoic manner. She seemed regretful and told me that she loved me. I don't remember her ever saying that to me when she was alive. The kinds of things I remember her saying included overhearing her tell my mother that I was fat and that she needed to do something about that, that we must get the ants out of our house because she feared she would wake up with them in her bed, and probably lots more that I've forgotten.

But that's just the point. The dream made me forget the trivial stuff and remember that she did love me. It also served to remind me that I want to live so that when people think of me they remember a voice of love rather than that of crabbiness.

Do I believe she spoke to me from beyond the grave? No. But I do believe she spoke to me from the past--from my memories. What voices from the past do you hear? Learn to listen to the ones that build you up and teach you and ignore the rest.

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