To have a bad memory is a writer’s curse and perhaps a grand daughter’s curse too. Sometimes I think that if I could step through the threshold of my grandmother’s apartment just once more, it would all come gushing out. All of it. The smells. The words that passed between us. The stories. I remember the cool darkness in the heat of the summer. Windows closed and shades drawn to keep out the heat. My grandmother’s life was orderly and tidy (for the most part) so it was easy to negotiate through dim light.
My grandmother was older than my grandfather, by a few weeks. Sometimes my young mind gave this fact credence to their failed love. They barely shared words. Unspoken, I was my grandmother’s ally. Did this rob me of a deeper relationship with my grandfather? For no good reason I was afraid of him. One of my earliest memories of him or maybe it was the repeated stories I heard were of my grandfather cradling me in his arms and singing, “Ba-Ba Black Sheep” gently in my ear. He was a tender man, but later sadly, I kept my distance.
Together alone, my grandparents' days were dimmed by their silence, as they rambled through rooms on opposite sides of the apartment. There are some things that are hard to forget.
Today marks my grandmother’s 122nd birthday. It is my hope that those accumulated years have helped two souls gain wisdom, understanding and healing to find the peace and love they both deserve.