I am a leper.
The residue from a skin-fry in the sun has left me a peeling, itching mess for the past three days or so. My arms, my legs, and now -- finally -- my head. Just in time for me to look like I have lice in addition to dropping flesh. AWESOME!
My Grandma used to tell a story about how one night she had a sleepover at her friend's house and they all slept on the grass. The next day on the way home her head kept itching so horribly, but she didn't want to scratch it for fear her friends would think she had lice (which is totally my Grandma to think that, by the way). It itched, itched, itched, but she just wouldn't scratch it. Finally when she got home she investigated and there was a caterpillar in her hair! YIKES!
This story filled me with horror and made me laugh at the same time. I'd always ask the same question: "Why didn't you just scratch your head, Grandma?" To which she would reply, again, "I didn't want them to think I had lice!"
My Granny-friend was a particularly clean and beautiful woman who had a terrible fear of growing into an old stinky lady. She did get to live to be pretty old, but she never did get stinky. "Promise me you will never let me smell! I do not want to have a body odor!" She always smelled fabulous and just like herself. When she would come stay at our house as a teenager I'd love it because for the next few days I'd fall asleep and my pillow smelled just like her. After I had my own family, she'd leave after a visit and I'd sit just where she sat and smell her in the air. Fabulous.
My Grandma and I spent a lot of time together, especially in my growing up years, and we loved each other so much. I knew she loved me. And she knew I loved her. She'd always tell me I was just like her, and in that she meant I was opinionated and sure of what I wanted and slightly stubborn and didn't like to be told what to do. Also, maybe a little unreasonable. This meant we had many spirited discussions, she and I. And sometimes, when I miss her so much, and I think maybe -- just maybe -- she's available, I tell her something I want her to know. I'm pretty sure she gets the message. Other times when I have too much to say, I write her a letter in my journal and tell her all about how much I miss her and all about my family. I figure she can read it during the millennium? But then, I'm also pretty sure she already knows. I do not doubt she watches out for me when she can and helps me when I need it; hence, ministering angels.
Some days I stare at the pictures of her and my Grandpa K.J. on the wall and wonder if I'll recognize them right away if they're young when I meet them again? Will she still feel just like my Granny-friend, will he still feel just like the strong, protective presence I remember from my early childhood? Or will our relationship evolve into a same-age friendship? I don't know. But I have the feeling that since so much of this mortal experience is just that ... experience ... and since knowledge and love are the only things we can take with us to the other side of the veil, maybe they will be all those things wrapped into one. The beautiful, gentle, sassy, funny, high-strung, and incredibly loving old woman that was a super-matriarch in my life, and the beautiful, fun-loving, high-spirited, passionate, adventurous and funny young girl who was the perfect person to call if you wanted to have a good time, will be one and the same and a friend and leader I will always be proud to claim as one of the most important parts of my legacy.
Grandparents are the best.
I always love and think of my Grandma, some days with a smile and a little wistfulness and some days with a terrible, consuming ache that feels like she was ripped out of my life yesterday.
But always, always, I am thankful she was and is mine.
One more thing. I have always wanted to name a daughter after her, but really. Iona? Devona Iona? HOW CAN YOU USE THAT, PEOPLE!!! The Double B and I, while hoping for the opportunity to have another daughter some day, continue the frantic search for some way to use that.
The quest continues.
In closing, I didn't start writing on this here ol' blog intending to write about my precious and wonderful Grandma. Obviously, I started out with leprosy and lice.
But she came into my head, and I love her. So that's what you and I discussed. Thanks for being my listening ear.