Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Dear gram



gram
Dear gram,

It's your birthday again. Or better said, it should have been your birthday.
I wish I could give you just one birthday more, so you could see the children and feel proud and happy.

On a day like this my memories dwell on those days long gone.
The smell of soup when we entered the house at the end of the morning.
My uncles sitting on the couch debating something special, or with their guitars, humming melodies I still hum when the weather is nice.

One by one the rest of the family would drop in.
Some very silent, congratulating you at the door and stealing a moment to give you your present out of sight of the rest.
Others with lots of noise and climbing the stairs like they were features of Mount Everest and never conquered before. They always had the need to be present and your gift would be given for all others to see.

You had a large box with blocks for the small ones. A building system I still keep at the attick for the next generation.
I can't remember any problems between the kids. But maybe I missed them, as I loved to help you in the kitchen and have fun with you, tasting the whipped cream on the cake and flatten it again with a hot spoon.

Later it was my turn to help with the soup, slicing an enormous pile of vegetables. You taught me how to use a large knife and people who see me slice food still ask me if I'm a cook. I'm still glad you taught me, because I need less time to prepare meals.
We always made soup the day before and often you asked me to stay and we had dinner, and watched TV or sang songs along with the gramophone. You took the effort to read the same books as I did, so we could talk about them.
How I cherish these wonderful memories.
Oh, and then in the morning you liked to keep the curtains closed and light candles. So often we've had candlelit breakfasts with butter on the bread put in the sugarbowl. I still long for the taste and the fun we had whispering and keeping silent so my uncle wouldn't wake up.

Your birthdays always ended with a huge pile of dishes in the kitchen.
Some years my aunties stayed and we tackled the lot with 6 or 8 people, barely able to move around in the kitchen. We always laughed a lot, even when there was not much to laugh about.

Some years they all had to leave and only my dad and I stayed.
You gave him a moment of rest in the large chair. I can still see him sitting there, watching TV, talking with my uncle, or just dozing off.
We would do the dishes like it was a real present. I still don't mind cleaning up the lot after special events.
Afterwards we would sit down and study the cards and presents. And you always said that age is an outer issue, that you still felt as young as ever. I could see it in your eyes.

Gram, I know now you were right.
I still feel the same energy in me, and each time I look in the mirror I'm kind of surprised I'm not as young anymore.
I did many things I enjoyed with you so much with my own children. Except for the candles at breakfast, I didn't want to risk to set the house on fire.

I understand now better than ever what motherhood meant to you, with your 7 kids, one of them chronically ill. You helped them grow up with humor and trust, you took them through war in a frontline city, with most of the family in the resistance. You included.
I know you cried, I've seen your tears. You lost your husband, and one by one your children. You've always worked hard and you said that nothing was more important than people, and to be yourself, and trust your own judgement.

I had only one picture of you, so I was surprised to find another one online on the site of a family member.
I see my daughters in you, and features of my son.
No wonder you're on my mind so often.
It's fun to see in your face the message you gave to me. "Observe the world, and think whatever you want. The whole world can have an opinion about you, they can label you or push their own opinions on you. But just think whatever you want. There's freedom in your mind, always."

It would be great to share my thoughts with you again.
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