Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Living in My Heart

Living in My Heart

“Hail Mary, Mother Of God…” I said as I counted the beads out with my small fingers, just as the Father had instructed me to do. I had confessed to him that I had taken two cookies before dinner. I remember my mother and grandma thought that was funny.

My Grandmother was a devout Catholic and I was raised Catholic, too. Although I grew away from Catholicism, the memories of Church and Grandma are still close to my heart.

I remember holding her hand and skipping along like busy little girls do as Grandma and me walked the six or seven blocks to Church. This would be the same Church that I would stand in front of family and friends, pick up the head of her casket and carry her down those steps for the final time.

If you have never been a pall bearer for a loved one, you can’t have any idea of the effects it has on you. I found myself looking at all the faces of those that loved her as we carried her towards the steps to leave that Church. As I walked, the fact that I was carrying my Grandmother to her final resting place hit me hard. Tears began rolling down my cheeks. Me, the hard one, the one that never cried, walked forward with my face drenched in tears and I could do nothing to wipe them or hide them. They were there for the world to see. I will never forget that feeling as long as I live.

When I would visit her as a young girl, one of the treats we had together was Dunkin Donuts. I would walk to the next block and visit the little shop there on Saturday evenings. I would pick out a couple for me and a couple for her for twenty cents or so each. We would have them before we walked to Church together on Sunday mornings.

I ate some dough nuts today to celebrate her birthday. I went all out, too. I ate a long john with creamy filling and chocolate icing and a raspberry jelly filled dough nut with white icing. I thought of her the whole time.

As Grandma neared the end of her life, she spoke of the wonderful dinner that had been prepared in her honor. She could actually see it, she said and she spoke of it. It was relayed to me in whispers, as Grandma lay there unable to move. It was then that I understood the mystery of faith.

The Good Book says some things are not meant for us to understand and when that time comes, the understanding will be granted. While my Grandmother lingered between life and death, her time to understand was granted to her. As her visitors wished her well and kissed her soft, cool cheek, she waited for the dinner bell to ring.

She laid her head on the soft pillow and her eyes fluttered softly as she realized a peace and contentment that she had been denied in this life. She drifted off to a peaceful retreat as she left the broken temple that had been her home and reached for the hand that awaited her presence at the table as she did so.

The precise moment that her fingers touched His, her golden heart stopped beating and she was gone… But never forgotten.

Happy Birthday, Grandma.


Mike said...

I always liked this story, think it is one of your best. I expect I will read it again someday in your book. ;)

Renie Burghardt said...

So touching and beautifully written tribute. The tears rolled down my cheeks reading it.


Kentucky Dreamer said...

Thank you both. I miss my grandma. Writing about her helps.

Thanks again ...