Today is my grandmother's birthday. We gathered on my aunt and uncle's back porch, sipping Coke, husking corn and watching the birds. The trees towered overhead, leaving the backyard cool and glowing green. My children played on the porch or ran through the garden path below. My dad told stories as did my other family members. We sat, laughed, shared and remembered.
My grandmother sat, so still and frail, mostly silent. She doesn't look her age, but compared to how she used to be, I can tell. She's so pale, thin and silence. It's the silence that gets me most of all. My grandmother has never been a quiet woman. She dominated the conversation with her many stories, loud voice and easy laugh. I grew up listening to her stories of times gone by, of my mother, of the war. Those stories shaped who I am. Her stories gave me a connection to my larger family; I felt I knew those aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents through her memories. But now, her memories have faded. She has emphysema from second-hand smoke which has left her easily winded. For most of the afternoon she sat quietly, just listening. I miss her stories.
Then my mother pulled out her camera. As she struck a pose, life filled my grandmother's face. Her eyes twinkled as she grinned at my mother. I brought my shy children near so they could talk to my grandma. Once again I saw her come to life. She tickled my daughter's toes and cuddled with my baby. As Grandma teased Aris, I saw her old self reappear.
Aging is inevitable. I realize how blessed I am to have my grandmother still with me and as able as she is. I treasure just being able to spend time with her now. No more long shopping trips for us now. But those few moments of seeing my grandma sparkle with life are more precious than gold to me. Luckily, I have them caught on camera so won't have to rely on my faulty memory banks. :)
Happy Birthday, Grandma!