Happy Birthday, Grandma Lill!
Whenever this day rolls around, it's a little bittersweet for me, but when I start thinking about all the wonderful things Grandma Lill left us with I can't help but smile and realize she was one of the sweetest gifts from God. She is present in every one of my days, despite the fact that I can't hear her voice or see her face - but I can feel her soul.
I don't think I will ever look at a flower without remembering her taking my little five-year-old hand, and walking me around her beautiful yard, showing me every flower and telling me it's name, and taking all the time in the world while I marveled at the shapes and colors.
I don't bake anything without remembering standing up to her kitchen table, rolling out pie crusts on bread wrappers, or taking incredible-smelling cookies out of the oven, and her saying that Grandpa works so hard, we have to take care of him because he takes such good care of us, and that wonderful feeling of value and worth and love that my little heart felt from that simple act of baking cookies.
I can't see a soap operat on TV without, just for a brief second, being transported back to the living room on a warm summer day, when Grandma first started letting me watch soaps with her rather than booting me outside with the little kids; I can almost see her curled up on the couch, barefoot, and me in the chair next to her; and her telling me about Bob Hughes' long, sordid history and all the women on the show he's been married to, with an almost naughty glee in her voice, but then pointing out that that's not the way nice people live!
Sometimes a little wisp of an old song will seem to pop into my head for no apparent reason - "Hang Down Your Head Tom Dooley," or "Little Brown Jug," or "Yellow Rose of Texas"... I know it's not coincidence, it's Grandma singing in my ear, with me sitting next to her at the piano, showing me where to put my fingers on those rich ivory keys, while Grandpa tooted on his saxophone, and I remember the delight I felt when what *I* was doing, what Grandma was doing, and what Grandpa was doing all came together into one unbelievably lovely and unique sound, something special none of us could have created alone.
I remember her spreading out the newspaper on the floor, and tracing around my Barbie to make a pattern for a skirt; the indignant feeling I had when she made me turn the wheel on the sewing machine by hand, and the scary thrill when she let me use the electricity for the first time, as I envisioned stitches made firmly across my finger if I went too fast, just like she'd warned.
I can't see a pimple without thinking about that poor unfortunate school chum of hers - the one who squeezed the pimple on Friday, and was dead on Monday...
I can't say a bad word without tasting those rocks and dirt that were coming out of my mouth...
She's here every time I make baking powder biscuits, every time I say something snotty to my husband ("ta-Ta-ta-Ta-ta-Ta!") and every time I make an ugly face ("It's going to stay that way!"). When she left us, she didn't leave us. She nestled herself firmly in our hearts and souls and personalities.
Have a wonderful birthday, Grandma Lill, whatever you're doing. I hope you're remembering these wonderful times too.