This post is about my grandmother or Mema as we call her. She is 90 years old and has Alzheimer. I don’t think she has really known me for almost 10 years now, maybe longer. She lives in an assisted living home. I will admit that I don’t visit her as often as I should. Maybe once every other month or so, a little more over summer break. We don’t talk much during our visits. I usually read to her while Ruby plays and entertains the others tenants, then we leave.
She’s the only grandmother I’ve had since I was 13. She kept me as a child while my parents worked. She wasn’t very grandmotherly and here is where the “unlikely” part of the title might make sense. My family who might read this will understand. She kept me, but she didn’t make me cookies or give lots of hugs, like some grandmothers. She rarely actually played with me. Usually I entertained myself outside or watched TV while she sewed, crocheted, or worked in her ceramic shop in the converted garage. She was an artist too. However, she didn’t teach me how to sew or crochet, and she would have preferred me to stay out of the ceramic shop. I mainly remember standing at the door of the shop or sitting at the steps watching her or looking through the old World Book Encyclopedias she had stacked up next to them. It was dusty from the clay dust. My classroom, during my clay unit, always brings me back to those days because it takes on the same smell and collects the same dust.
I have never really considered her as much of a reason or inspiration for my creative endeavors or abilities.
I only remember my Mema actually teaching me one thing and that is the words to Amazing Grace. It hung on her wall in the living room. You memorized Amazing Grace, sang it a couple billion times, and you might have actually gotten a smile from her as she spit her chew into her mason jar. Yep, she chewed. I just thought you should know that tidbit of information too. Makes the story more interesting, I think.
I only remembered her teaching me Amazing Grace, but the other day I started thinking about her and then thinking about myself. I realized she taught me a whole lot more without knowing it. I realized I actually owed her an acknowledgement. An acknowledgement for my love, desire, and drive to create. I loved watching her and I loved going to craft shows with her (I had to go, she didn’t drive, so my mom had to drive her, and I came along, because I had to). No matter how cold she was, no matter how many times she encouraged me to go watch TV, I wanted to create like she did. I wanted to make beautiful things. I’m also a bit of a rebel and if you tell me I can’t do something I will do my best to prove you wrong and do it anyway. It drives me. In my teens that was bad, sorry mom. Now I’ve turned it into something good called drive. Although sometimes I think I go into overdrive. Thankfully I have a wonderful husband who helps me with that and keeps me somewhat grounded. Overdrive can get a little crazy, but I digress, as usual. Any whooo, back to my Mema.
After thinking about my Mema and my experiences with her I realized how much she has not really inspired me, but influenced me. That she really did teach me something other than Amazing Grace. She influenced my need to create things, to use my talents, and not let too much get in the way of those God given talents. I say “too much” because the difference in my Mema and myself is I actually let my little one help me and create with her. I make it a point to let her help. And when I find myself pushing her away I think about how my Mema made me feel, apologize, and take time out to create with her. Digression again, sorry.
I create because it’s in my DNA, it’s been passed down. I’ve been around it my whole life. It’s my nature. Passed down from my Mema, to my mom, to me, and it looks like, also, to a little Ruby.
So with all that I want to acknowledge my Mema and say thank you, not for the cookies or hugs. Thank you for the creative genes, the drive to create. Thank you for sitting around sewing, crocheting, and making ceramics while a little girl stared a hole through you and longed to create like you. Thank you for being creative.
And… I promise to teach Ruby Amazing Grace and sing it to you the next time I visit.
Note: I love my Mema and did not write this in anyway to demean her or be disrespectful. I truly am thankful for her influence. As I finished writing this I had another moment of clarity and also realized she actually taught me a lot about loving God and God’s love/grace for us. That’s really, truly what counts the most anyway.
Odd Little Fact about me: I actually do get in the zone and don’t want to be disturbed at all when I’m creating. I understand, I guess, a little how my Mema felt when she created, and I have to fight the urge to not shut everyone out for hours and days when I’m needing to create. Like the week before a show. The house is usually a mess and peanut butter sandwiches are eaten at all 3 meals. If I didn’t get completely grossed out by body odor I’d probably not shower either. And maybe I don’t, but I’m not telling you if I really do or not. No judgement:).