Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Luggage (08/15/05)
- TITLE: A True Story
By Alexandra Wilkin
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Girlie was blessed with rich hazel eyes, high cheekbones and a clear complexion that was rarely sullied with make-up and only ever cleaned with soap and water. Her chuckle was infectious, her laughter vigorous and her embrace warm yet delicate: she would hold my face between the slender fingers of her hands and kiss each cheek three times with a soft rhythmic caress that left a lingering warm feeling on the flesh.
Despite being my Mother’s Grandmother, there was no sense of any age gap; Girlie had the rare talent of feeling comfortable with anyone – in the London community where she lived for much of the last half of her life, she was loved and respected by all, young and old, black and white, Christian, Muslim and Hindu. She entertained all happily in her tiny little flat, producing what seemed like miracles from her even tinier kitchen for sometimes as many as thirty people. She loved to take care of people, almost as much as she loved God for it was always in the service of His love that she worked. She lived her whole life guided by His will, and the joy of it poured like sunshine from her.
So many times as I was growing up I would hear someone say: ‘She was stood there on my doorstep, with the very thing I so desperately needed, the exact help I had prayed for. How did she know that was what I needed?’ And Girlie would smile, and tell them – ‘God knows every hair on your head my darling, and loves you. He knows what you need.’ Girlie would give her last penny away if it was needed; and though she had once had many lovely rings and necklaces, she gave most of those away too. If someone commented on how pretty a particular ring was, often they would leave wearing it. ‘Keep it,’ she would say. ‘It makes you smile. And I can’t take it with me.’ Girlie never preached – though she planted many seeds – preferring always to live by example: either people understood that she lived through the inspiration of Christ or they did not. I have rarely met anyone who better understood free will, or how to practice it, than Girlie.
Girlie promised me, when I was much younger, that she would live to see my eighteenth birthday, and that we would be able to say ‘goodbye’ before she passed over. Whilst I had no doubt she would see me turn eighteen, I was uncertain how she would keep her second promise: however close we were, we were separated by many miles geographically.
It was about six weeks after my birthday: I was working in a luggage and leather goods shop, and it was a sunny and very quiet Wednesday afternoon. A small pile of leather bags stood around my feet, the smell of tanned skin strong in my nostrils as I carefully marked each one with its appropriate stock card. It was 2.29pm and I was counting the minutes till my tea break.
Suddenly the smell of lavender was as powerful as if I were stood in a field of it and it felt as if giant stalks of it were brushing against my knees – lavender was Girlie’s favourite smell and herb. I could ‘feel’ her spirit with me and with words that were felt and not heard she told me to take care, that she would see me always – and to have faith. It was over in seconds, but is an endless moment that lives in my heart to this very day. Girlie always kept her promises.
When I returned home that afternoon, I did not need to be told that Girlie had passed over at 2.29 that afternoon; I knew. God’s grace had allowed for her spirit to be with me as it made its journey home. Girlie had filled her soul and spirit with love, His love, carrying home within herself the only thing that mattered: her love for Him and desire to serve God, who knows how many souls – mine own included – she brought back home to Him.
I know that He blesses and keeps you Girlie, who lives now, as then, in love and light.
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