My grandmother turned 90 last May. For her birthday, she asked for a memory. This is the memory that I shared with my family on my grandmother's 90th birthday.
First of all, I would like to thank my grandmother. The only reason that I am here today to help her celebrate her 90th birthday is because she saved my life 30 years ago. Let’s just say if it wasn’t for the protective arms of my grandmother, my cousin, Jessica, and I would have been sent to the slaughter by our mothers at the age of 4. God hath no fury like two mothers glaring at the vasolined walls of a child’s bedroom. If it wasn’t for my grandmother grabbing her two greased watermelon granddaughters and throwing them in a bathtub far away from her daughters in law’s grasps, at least two of us might not have been here tonight.
With that said, let me move on to a fond memory that I have of my grandmother. If I had to decide on one memory of my grandmother that defines her role and importance in my life as well as the relationship that she and I have, it would have to be this…
It is night time; it is always night time for these moments. Three little girls and one little boy are curled up in two twin beds listening to their grandmother reading the stories of The Five Little Peppers and Heidi, of the quiet old lady whispering, “Hush,” the adventures of a curious monkey, the remarkable friendship between Charlotte and Wilbur, the escapades of Mole, Ratty, and Toad, the imaginative world of The Wild Things, or my personal favorite, getting lost in the Secret Garden of Misselthwaite Manor. My favorite memories are of those very precious moments when we would get lost in the worlds my grandmother would create when she read to us. We would transport ourselves into other places and experience moments unlike those of our daily routines. The stories she would pick out for us to explore together would stimulate our childhood imaginations and in turn, those imaginations have created and shaped our adult dreams.
The adventures that the five of us went on when she read to us have very much shaped who we are as individuals. Grammy, like the wizard in The Wizard of Oz, through reading to us has helped give us the tools to develop our dreams and get us where we needed to go. Bryn, like Louis in The Trumpet of the Swan, has found her voice and song and has used both resourcefully to find love and contentment. Adam, like The Giving Tree, has an unwavering sensitivity and whole heart-ed amount of unconditional love that pours from his soul when he looks at his family. Jessica, like Meg in A Wrinkle in Time, has a natural curiosity that she uses to search out scientific answers and solve mysteries of the universe while still maintaining her sense of fun and adventure. And me, like Mary in The Secret Garden, prefers the worlds outside of my own. Mary had her garden, I have my stories which I read, teach, and write. We have used these tools to be who we are today.
These are the memories of my grandmother that I luckily get to share with my cousins and sister. These are the memories that stand out the most. These are the moments that I look forward to telling the next generation about. I am excited for the time when I get to say, “Oh I love this story! I remember when my grandmother used to read this to us when we were little.” It is through these memories that tradition and love lives on, and for that I thank you. Happy Birthday, Grammy.