Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Grandparent(s) (04/03/08)
TITLE: The Music of a Life Well Lived
By Tammy Bovee
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At holidays her house always rang with music and laughter. Complete with 3 families of girl cousins, one family of boy cousins. I recall, after one holiday meal we had chocolate sundaes. I made the mistake of leaving mine unattended for a moment, only to reclaim it with a big Brussels Sprout buried inside.
Scents too play music on the heart. Grandmas’ perfume dominates any room. Her lavender scent is as clean and strong as her unsullied influence over a family, who lost their Father to Leukemia.
As we sit together under my patio umbrella, Grandma tells me she wishes we wouldn’t dispense of the hymns. She tells of her drives back and forth from her job at the hospital while Grandpa lay dying of Leukemia, those hymns kept her heart focused on God. Delicately, I explain my concern of accepting the new, while clinging steadfastly to the essentials of our faith. She reminds me of the important doctrines in the hymns. I resolve to always write deep lyrics when I compose.
Now she sits in memories’ eye, on the organ bench, earnestly, shoes off, for the bass pedals, looking up over her bifocals at the pages of music, her white hair shimmering.
With a twinkle in her snapping brown eyes, the corners of her mouth turn upward into the wrinkles developed through a good sense of humor,she tells how Grandpa used to lead music. Of course all I know of Grandpa are stories and pictures wrapped in dusty silver frames and albums. His character remains legendary.
His four daughters tell the tale of Grandpa rising from a slumber one night to a daughter’s complaining of a bat in her room. As he gets up, wearing his red sailboat pajamas, insisting there is no bat, suddenly it swoops by his head.
As I stand on Grandmas back hill for the last time before she moves from my childhood castle of memories, the willow trees, grown tall with age, weep for the little children who would sled down the hills in the little saucer sled, bedecked in Grandpa’s snow clothes. As the wind blows the willows whisper of days watching Grandma’s offspring rolling down, down, down the grassy hill.
This summer, as we visit Grandma’s house, we enter, greeted by the scents of childhood. Grandma welcomes us into her kitchen and apologizes over the mess. The usually orderly counters are piled high. Always a lady, she explains she’s sorting things to move to her daughter’s home.
I think back to the summer day my mother and I just happened over for a visit and created a memory. Grandma reads to us from the family heritage book. She reads about our relatives claiming land on the Canadian Prairie. She reads of the mischievous children tying sleigh bells to the yearling foal and how their Father had to traipse across the prairie to reclaim him. I think about the times my cousins catapulted mashed potatoes at each other during the dinner Grace. Grandma reads about a grandmother, who during a family move across the prairie in a covered wagon, manages to make steaming hot biscuits for her family’s supper. I think of Grandma's famous rolls, brushed with a wisp of sweet frosting. I listen as Grandma tells of a time when all our family was not Christian.
As I sit, listening, laughing sometimes crying, gratitude sweeps over my soul. Grandma has carried the torch of faith. As I linger in the sweetness of the memory, I feel the weight of glory slowly, shifting. I’m suddenly aware of choices, millions of them, now frozen in time; which together compose a beautiful life.
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