Monday, September 30, 2013

Why I Go

A heart is not judged by how much you love; but by how much you are loved by others.
―L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

She has eighteen grandchildren (I don't even know how many great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren), but there was a time when she answered the phone with a question, and when I said, "Hi, Grandma," she knew my voice from all the others.

And I feel sure: it wasn't that I was oh-so special but that, to her, each of us was. She had this way--when she was wholly herself--of making us feel known. She wrote us letter after letter; she was, hands down, everyone's best pen pal. She loved to talk to us on the phone, across the dining room table, on the porch swing, in the living room, everywhere. She and I fell asleep, many times, talking in the dark.

For nearly thirty years, her favorite story to tell of me was that--when she went to take my photo on my first day of kindergarten--I threw some kind of fit. Her favorite story to tell of Andrea involved Andrea's being a rotten teenager, but it didn't matter: doesn't.

(Andrea cried, a few weeks ago, when she pulled one of Grandma's owl cups from my cupboard. How clandestine the grief.)

It hurts to become unknown to someone who knew you from your beginning and loved you through your bad. For years, I felt bitterly disappointed after every visit, having prayed for Grandma to know me one more time. I let go of that hope after the Lord, in His mercy, allowed a dream. I still pray for good visits, also for my recovery from them; even when they're good, they're hard.

She doesn't know who I am, and no sooner do her visitors leave than she forgets she had them. But I watch her light up for my children and believe it matters that we're there. My younger children have never met so much of her, but I hope--after the last bit of her soul flies to the Lord--they'll remember her smile, her embrace.

And I guess I hope that--even as I stroke her arm or kiss her forehead--the most of her looks down, already, from that better and brighter place. I hope she knows me in real time: speaks my name just out of earshot. I hope she waits for me there even as we sit together, here.

Photo by Emmanuel Artis. Editing mine.


  1. What dear photos! The dream you had, what a comfort. What a blessing you are to your grandma.

  2. Sweet story and true blessings. This one touched my heart. I'm going to call my mom now. (I keep losing my comments on your blog. baffling.)

  3. this post touches a tender place in my heart. You did an amazing job of capturing a Grandma's (and grandchild's) love in your words and your photos. You will treasure this post, too.

  4. Oh I am crying, can't keep the tears back. Love that you keep going to love on her as she did for you. Keep those memories super close to your heart. My boys, just this weekend, got out the albums and my little ones even though they don't remember because they were so little looked at those pictures with pride and said, "yip, there is Grandma-Great holding me, she loved me!"

    I would love to hear about your dream some day.

  5. It's so hard when we're not remembered by those who used to remember us so well. When my mother was falling deeper into Alzheimer's, it was so difficult the day she asked if my sister (her daughter!) and I were twins (nope, two years apart). But I like to believe that deep down, beyond the recognition of names and faces, she still knew that we were people who loved her deeply and whom she loved in return. I'm sure it's the same with your grandmother.

  6. Brandee,
    What a loving tribute to your grandmother and those photos...they show how she must be hard as you said to know she doesn't seem to remember...I like what Lisa wrote about knowing deep down, past memory...

  7. I love that quote Brandee..and your beautiful words *sniff* what a precious woman of tender and special are those photos. Praying the Lord's Peace and Grace, my friend {{hugs}}