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THE ASTONISHING SECRET OF GRANDMOTHER'S MEMOIRS
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Introduction:

I would sit completely mesmerized as my grandmother reminisced with me about her life. To my family she became an annoyance, but to me, she was my world. Her life intrigued me; I was like her. She would tell me all the time that she believed God sent me just for her. The loving touch of her hand, the tender tone of her voice, her mere presence, soothed my soul. Although, sometimes during her stories, she would almost frighten me with a distant gaze deep within her eyes; a distance that seemed to take me with her. Almost as if her voice hypnotized me.

I could vividly see every detail, clearly hear the music, actually smell the sweet fragrance of the flowers, feel the coolness of the morning air, and taste the sweetness of grandmother’s homemade sweet tea of many years ago. Grandmother could go from casually narrating her stories, to self-reflection, to talking to someone or something other than me, as if she actually stepped back in time. She would laugh and cry, whisper and shout, then flow easily back into her narration, as if she never strayed. Most thought she was losing her mind, but I knew she had not lost anything. Her mind was crisp and clever, and her soul delightful. She seized every moment, cherished every memory, and embedded that gift deep inside of me. I believed in life, love and happiness, I believed in her.

When my mother left for work on Saturday mornings, Grandmother and I would hurry to the window, so we could wave as my mother hurried off. Goodbye for now, Grandmother would say as she tickled me. That was her way of reassuring me that my mother would be home soon and there was no need for sadness. Then, she would open the window, light the candle that smelled so sweetly like fresh jasmine, and pour us tall glasses of sweet tea. She always covered the couch with a freshly washed white linen sheet and played music from her past that brought life to her stories, framing her every word with a whimsical magic. Come now child, time to go back, she would say, and I would eagerly hurry to cuddle by her side for the journey!

Grandmother would just pluck a moment out of time and run with it. There was no telling where we were going, until Grandmom opened her memory...
 
DEDICATION: This story, as all my stories, are dedicated to my mother, Leona Tice, who was my first inspiration of imagination and creativity... and to my father, Russell Tice, who was also proud of me! :) (I will love them both dearly... forever.) 
 
This story is also dedicated to my grandmother, Ruth. Who was gone long before I was born, but remains etched within my heart. 
 
Story Written By: Barbara Ann Hall

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
COPYRIGHT 2004

Children know no time, their minds do not entertain days beyond today.

 

I stared into the mirror, focusing for a moment on the reflection of the Grandfather clock that stood behind me. Although the hands of the old clock had stood motionless upon it’s face for many years, my personal reflection confirmed that time had not stood still. A lifetime already? I turned from the mirror and faced the lifeless old Grandfather clock. For many years I thought you tried to hold back time and failed. For minutes continued to tick into hours, hours into days, days into years. Now, after all this time, your motionless hands have new meaning to me. I understand now. Days no longer turn to years, nor minutes to hours, but instead they reverse until the hands of time stand still. But, my hands are not yet still and I remember well.

~@~

Grandpa and I bought this house in May many years ago. We parked the car and strolled up the walk hand in hand. What a beautiful morning it was! Wild flowers were thick in the fields and the crisp morning air refreshed my soul. Your grandfather kissed me then. Can you feel the cool, soft breeze playing with your hair child? Oh the sweet smell of jasmine! Have I been to this house before? Beyond the living room there was a beautiful library with books of poetry, short stories, and wonderful novels. Beautiful books bound in soft leather with gold lettering, each unlocked another world, another time and place, another adventure! Who will I be today? Who will I meet? Where will I go? Each morning I would open the huge wood framed windows that overlooked the fields and the gentle breeze would tickle my cheeks as I read for hours on the hard wood floor in front of Father Time. He seemed to be amused with me. Oh the sweet smell of wild flowers!  Material things mean little to me child, but I do love Father Time!

He’s home! He’s home! Could I have waiting another moment for him? "Where’s my lovely wife? Where is the beautiful woman I married?” I’m here! “I hear you, but I don’t see you my love. Where is my lovely wife?” Here, in here! I'm in here my prince!  "Where is here?” The library my love! “Oh yes, I keep forgetting that here is the library.” Then I would hear him laughing as he appeared in the doorway, with his beautiful blue eyes flashing a radiant smile that always made my heart skip a beat. “May I have a kiss?” Please? “Please may I have a kiss?” I lived for your grandfathers kisses. “Where did you go today,” he would ask me. When I would just smile, he would say, “do I need to ask Father Time?”  Ask him, if you feel you must! I would say, shooing him away. “Okay then, I will.” He would then stroll over to the beautiful old Grandfather clock, fall to his knees and ask, “Father Time, where was my lovely wife today?" For your grandfather knew me well. "Just as I thought," he would sigh. "Thank you Father Time." Then he would turn back to me as if pierced through the heart and say, "Father Time tells me you visited with Rhett Butler again this morning. Is he more handsome than I?” Fiddle Le De, if you don't lavish me with kisses, I may tell you so tomorrow!  Ha ha ha! Oh, how I enjoyed teasing your grandfather!

After dinner each night, Grandpa and I would sit on the porch swing, he would light his pipe, and I would share with him my stories. He would uplift me with his undivided attention, knowing how I enjoyed embellishing every detail. Long into the night we would sit after my story was told and share our hopes and dreams of the future. He loved to paint, and sometimes, he would sit in front of his easel and paint scenes from my imagination, my thoughts and my heart. How do you see inside of me” “I know you well my love, I know you well,” he would say as his brush gently stroked the canvas. “Where are you in the painting?” I would ask him disappointed that once again I was painted alone. “I am in your heart my dear.” Forever my love, forever in my heart! was the response he anticipated.

Grandmother could barely whisper that last line as tears trickled down her cheeks. That was the last story Grandmother shared with me. She left me everything; her entire estate, the land, the house and all it’s contents, but most cherished to me, the memories of her life in my heart.

The house had been lifeless for many years before I returned. But, the living room was just as I remembered it. The white linen sheet still covered the couch where Grandmom and I last sat together that Saturday morning once upon a time. On impulse, I rushed to the window as if I could catch my mother leaving for work. I parted the curtains and looked out with the hope of a child. But, only the wind was there to greet me. I opened the window widely and the morning air rushed in and danced around the room. That’s when I noticed the dust covered record still sitting in place, I blew off the dust and held my breath, would it still work after all these years? When the music began to lull in my ears, it brought with it a gush of memories. Instantly, I smelt jasmine!

The candle! Where is the candle? I looked around the room; but I didn’t really believe I would find it. I sat down on the couch and rubbed my hands over the coolness of the sheet as if searching for something. That’s when I saw the two tall glasses sitting on the table in front of me. Grandmom’s homemade tea! It was almost as if I could still taste it in my mouth. I picked up the glass that was my Grandmother’s and sat there holding it for what felt like hours. By the time I laid the glass gently back on the table, the room was dimming and the air felt damp. I closed the window and decided to walk through the rest of the house.

When I stepped into the kitchen, I realized that most of my time at Grandmother’s house was spent with her in the living room. However, I do remember nights when mom and I would eat dinner with Grandmom in the kitchen. I glanced into the Dining Room as I continued down the hall. The first floor bedroom was Grandmother’s. Her favorite color was pink, and it reflected in the pastel floral prints of the curtains and bedspread; feminine and romantic, just as I had remembered it. The spiral staircase did not seem as huge to me as it did when I was a child. I ran up the stairs and straight to the window at the end of the upstairs hallway and looked out into the gardens, just as I always did as a child. The gardens where overgrown and unkempt, but still they held a unique charm and beauty.

Grandmother had a special room just for me. When I opened the door it took me back in time. I was a child again, but unlike then, I felt alone and scared in a place that had once filled my heart with joy.

Grandmom, I miss you!  I cried aloud. My bed was a pink ruffled canopy and my furniture white with gold trim. Sitting on the little writing desk in a floral cut brass frame was a picture of Grandmother and me, obviously taken many years ago. I don’t believe I had ever seen that picture before. As I stared at the picture, I felt a sense of comfort.

Then I saw a little pink envelope on Teddy’s lap who sat in the rocking chair in the corner of the room. As I slowly walked closer I could see the writing on the envelope clearly, which read, For My Beloved Granddaughter. It was for me, from Grandmom! When did she lay it there? Why had I never seen it before today? My hands were shaking as I opened it and began to read.

 

Dear Granddaughter ~

You have always been my everything.  God sent you, my little angel, just for me! For you’ve been forever painted in my heart.  When you miss me, search deep within your soul and believe in me. Remember my stories well, they are yours now. Yours to take you back in time. Seize every moment and create a lifetime of wonderful memories!  I’ll look forward to hearing about them one day!  Here is the key to the Library; it will only work if your heart so desires. Cherish your grandfather’s painting as I do and love Father Time. I love you with all my heart and soul. Goodbye, for now.

Grandmom

xoxoxo

The Library? Was that this house? Why have I never seen it before? I took the little golden key from the envelope and ran through the rooms. Where would it be? “Remember my stories well,” rang through my thoughts. “Beyond the living room there was a beautiful library with books of poetry, short stories, and wonderful novels. Beautiful books bound in soft leather with gold lettering, each held another world, another time and place, another adventure!”  I ran to the living room, wondering why I had never noticed another possible room beyond it. I spent hours and hours in that room, I would have known! There must be some mistake!

When I reached the living room the record was still playing, I glanced around the room holding the little golden key in my hand; my thoughts jumbled. I stood there staring at nothing, captivated by the music. That’s when it came into focus, a little leather bound book with gold print sitting upon the bookcase.

Grandmother’s Stories? I picked it up, and noticed it was locked, I tried the little golden key in the lock. It worked! As I flipped through the pages, I recognized each word. I flipped to the last chapter in the book that began, After dinner each night, Grandpa and I would sit on the porch swing, he would light his pipe, and I would share with him my stories. He would uplift me with his undivided attention, knowing how I enjoyed embellishing every detail. The words got blurry as my eyes filled with tears.

Was my mother right, had my grandmother lost her mind? Could she have memorized these stories to claim as her own? My mind was exhausted, but again I remembered my grandmother’s words; “Children know no time, their minds do not entertain days beyond today.”  I glanced back down at the book, the pages flipped back into place; I recognized my Grandmother’s handwriting on the front cover. For my Granddaughter who may one day wish she had written down my stories. But, children know no time, their minds do not entertain days beyond today.


I was angry that she would go as far as dedicating this book to me as her own. I threw it to the floor. My soul was silently screaming as I realized that I didn’t know the woman my world revolved around. “Who am I?” I screamed. I didn’t know. My sobs echoed long into the night.

My hair, tickling my cheek woke me. Did I leave the window open? That’s when I realized the music was still playing. How could that be? My vision was blurred from crying myself to sleep. I rubbed my eyes. That’s when I noticed that the book sat precisely on the shelf where I originally found it and I was still grasping the little golden key in my hand. Was it all just a dream?

I walked over to the bookcase and picked up the book, I wanted to read it. Try to understand why my Grandmother needed so desperately to imagine another life for herself, for me. Maybe the answers were in the book?

That’s when I saw it! A little golden key hole in the bookcase behind where the book sat! Could it be? “Grandmother, I need to believe in you,” I cried as I slowly turned the key. I heard a soft click and the bookcase became slightly ajar, the narrow opening illuminating a bright light. I slowly opened the passage just wide enough to slip through.

I couldn’t believe my eyes! I was standing in the Library of Grandmother’s stories. The bright sunlight blinded me for a moment, but once my eyes adjusted, I stood in awe of the hundreds of soft leather bound books with gold lettering that lined the bookcases. Huge wood framed windows overlooked the fields. Just like grandmother described! I went and opened the windows widely, just as she would have done. As I turned around I caught my reflection in a gold-framed mirror, and for a moment I didn’t recognize myself. Then I realized that another reflection shared the mirror with me. “Father Time is that you?" I whispered.

I turned around, Father Time! It is you, isn't it? I greeted him with a smile as I gently tickled my fingers down his grand, but motionless face! “Where is my Grandmother today Father Time?” I asked hopeful. He seemed to be amused. I sat on the floor in front of the massive grandfather clock and on the floor in front of me, pushed half under the base of the clock, lay a book; Paintings Of The Heart. I opened the book and for a moment my heart stood still.

The beautiful book held hundreds of my Grandfather’s paintings! Each a glorious work of art! Grandmother looked radiant in every painting, her love of life, her love for him, sparkled in every stroke just as Grandfather's blue eyes! Oh he was handsome!

But... I thought Grandmom said he never painted himself into the pictures? As I flipped to the last page, I recognized the happy child swinging between the hands of my smiling grandparents as they strolled through the field of wild flowers leading up to the house, her hair gently blowing against her cheeks. “But how could that be? I never met my grandfather!” I cried aloud, full of confusion and grief. "Grandmother! I need you! I need to believe in you! I need to understand!" I sobbed.

Again I smelt jasmine. Was it only my imagination, or was something magical in the air? I suddenly felt sleepy, too sleepy to even sit up. I don’t know how long I slept there on the floor in front of Father Time before the massive vibration of his chimes woke me; five, six, seven. Then I heard my grandmother’s voice! “Where are you child?” 

“Grandmother?”  When I looked up she was standing in the doorway! Just as I had remembered her! “There you are child! Come my little one, your grandfather is waiting anxiously on the porch swing for story time to begin.”  I ran and threw my arms around her. She hugged me tight, looked down into my eyes and said with a smile, “thank you for believing in me granddaughter.” Then she took my hand and led me outside to meet my grandfather!

 

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COPYRIGHT 2004