I’ve been thinking of my grandmother almost constantly the
last few weeks. The book has
turned into an extended eulogy for both her and the old house. As I’ve made notes, written in my
journal and composed chapters, memories have come flooding back. I spent so much time being frustrated
and angry with Merdie at the end of her life that I forgot a lot of the truly
great things she gave me.
This is not to minimize the colossal pain in our butts that
she became in her last years or to exonerate her of her complete lack of
support and comfort to my Pap as he was dying of cancer. She was wrong in the worst kind of way,
and she did things that are unforgivable.
But despite all that, there was something so wonderful about who she had
been for me. It is and will
probably remain one of the great mysteries of my life. If there was ever a complex, not flat
character, it would have to be Merdie.
I recently came across a letter she wrote many years
ago. I first found it after I had
delivered the eulogy. The parallels
between the two were striking, proving I probably had known her pretty well,
maybe not the person she really often was but as the person she truly wanted to
In the letter, she tells her children and grandchildren that
she will always be with us in the “warm spring sunshine, the fragrance of a
lovely flower, the silence of a peaceful night, or the cooing of a dove.” As I sat in my garden yesterday
evening, I thought of her and the love she gave me despite her many flaws. There are many truths about my life and
theirs; I hope I am talented enough to tell them.