Sunday, May 19, 2013

Freckles and Wrinkles and Markings of the Soul


The sun has arrived.  June, her arms filled with a bounty of flowers and flush with the scent of summer, waits just beyond the door.  The magical promise of fire flies glinting in her eyes, long days and even longer nights languid with music and laughter and smoke from the bonfire.

Oh, my heart stirs.

My grandmother, passing ninety-five some time ago, has come to stay for a spell.  Her name is Elva.  A proper sort of name for five feet of southern charm.  My days are slower now, a mingling of school year's end rush and the shuffle of elderly foot steps.  She makes me pause, abandon projects and lists for lazy afternoons of stories and cold limeade on an herb lined porch.  The speakers hidden beneath the old oak table filling the air with Nina Simone and Martin Sexton, music to remember by. 

Worlds lost, revisited.

I spend my mornings in love with dirt, coaxing tiny leaves from the earth.  Pruning and cutting and edging our world; the sun's touch warm on my skin.  An igneous heat that permeates my flesh, filtering down beneath the surface of sinew and bone to whisper to my soul...."Awake."

I pause in the hall before the mirror.  Her flushed cheeks and tangled hair surprise me.  Somehow the unkempt wild version of me seems younger.  Bare skin damp with exertion, white shadows beneath spaghetti straps vivid against tan speckled shoulders that trumpet the success of weeded tomatoes and basil thriving.  Summer's blush, this is.

Gram calls. 

Icy tumblers leave wet rings on the blue and green bits of glass, a mosaic reminder of how beautiful broken can be.  Her hand trembles as she sips, the act taking her full attention, brow furrowed.  Libations safely returned to the table, she tilts her head, white hair tossed softly in the breeze.  "Have I told you about the first time I saw Ed?  That wild Cates boy...."

The satin webs that frame her eyes, creases etched by a thousand smiles, a thousand tears....joy and anger and sorrow. A life carved into the flesh of a woman, two husbands and three sons buried.  How cruel the hand of Fate can be.   

But here, in her granddaughter's home, three rowdy great grandsons atumble, rosemary studded beef saturating the air as it slowly roasts inside, the day unhurried and soft.  Telling tales to this freckled woman masquerading as a girl... 

Lord, thank you for the opportunity to pour out...and to take in.

Freckles and wrinkles and markings of the soul.


19 comments:

The Loerzels said...

Stories of days gone by, limeade and Nina Simone? Perfection!

Freckled Philologist said...

Oh how this post makes me long for summer, a garden lost (balcon geraniums and rosemary will have to do) and even. the South I've never visited. Lovely. Besos.





Shelly said...

How I would love to sit and visit with your grandma, and with you, my friend. Such treasures, both of you.

Stephanie @ Life, Unexpectedly said...

Those memories are the best. I sometimes look at myself in the mirror, especially if it's beyond bedtime but I'm not ready yet to turn in. I search for the day in my face, sometimes my eyes look hollow, then my face looks radient again. I look at the girls, weed through pictures and look for them in the baby faces..

Brian Miller said...

your descriptions are gorgeous...the wet ring mosaic, beauty in broken things...lovely...the freckled girl masquerading as a girl...made me smile there too...

Joseph Merlin said...

My BFF, I know a time will come when you and I sit on your porch and tell our grandchildren tales of today... the years we are living now... and I look forward to that day. I also look forward to the day when you hand me an autographed copy of your book, the one about your life, including the chapters that tell of the many things you have learned from the women who have mentored and inspired you to be come the woman you are, the friend that I love and am so thankful to have in my life. The book will bring about every emotion possible, there will be laughter and tears as I read it, there will be memories of sadness and joy, and you will describe them in a way that will bring me back to the moment it happened as if I were right there with you ... doing it all over again.... I urge you to write this book ASAP... because you know as well as I... that I will need something as powerful as your words to help me remember the moments we have shared... considering I have a hard time remembering this morning I cant imagine what my mind will be like when we are 80! Love you my sister... AG

Shea Goff said...

What a lovely visit you two are having. Thank you for giving us a glimpse.

Out on the prairie said...

your grandmother aiding the laid back charm of your home is nice to enjoy

terlee said...

Oh, your beautiful post makes me miss my Gran so much...

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

What a wonderful experience, to have your grandmother come for a visit. And you clearly know how to make her welcome.

FrankandMary said...

Reading thru the post ends with the feeling of the flow of water over smooth stones. Often in life we think: Is this all there is? But instead, reading how you captured her visit, I think: Ah yes, there is THIS.

So many people wait to pursue happiness later~you are getting yours now, with a side of limeade.

Chantel said...

Marie--drop in anytime! :)

Mary--thank you darling, and I believe rosemary makes everything lovely.

Shelly--you do say the nicest things, sweet woman.

Stephanie--I know exactly what you mean!

Brian--isn't summer just grand? And thank you!

Joseph--aka: Agnes--dearest, when I do write that book, there will be more than one chapter with you in it! :) xo

Shea--she certainly changes things up a bit! You would love her...

Prairie--thank you, what a beautiful compliment. :)

Terri--thank you and I'm sorry in the same moment...but sometimes the memories that make us ache are the dearest ones, aren't they?

Bliss--you should hear the boys cheer when I mention her coming, they yell, "Yeah! Pie every night!!" lol

Chantel said...

Mary--you snuck in there during the 48 minutes it took me to answer the others (which included two band-aides, a trip to the neighbors, and watermelon for Gram) I am relishing your words, they sum up exactly what I feel--trying so hard to not only make this time amazing for her, but to let this sink in, enabling me to cherish now....and when I'm ancient too.

Is it too much to ask for a grandchild that might bring me limeaide and listen to the records in my mind play over and over....?

FrankandMary said...

Perhaps it isn't too much to ask, considering...considering your gestures of love & acceptance, considering that your sons are growing up under both the shadows & the sun of THIS. Considering the grandmother I think you'd be...with the flickers of gentleness... ~Mary

Susan Struck said...

You put it all into such beautiful words, your appreciation for this lingering time with your grandma.

the best part of my day... said...

Elva sounds wonderful...and this piece of writing made me slow down too. I treasure time with my grandmothers as well. How lucky are we!

Optimistic Existentialist said...

This makes me miss my mamaw Frances. I hope you have a wonderful weekend Chantel!

Elisa Mayo said...

How wonderful! Makes me miss my own grandma...departed to heaven over a year ago now...thank you for taking her into your home, so few of us breathing in life here do that, ya know.

Chantel said...

Mary--such wonderful things you say, warms me to my toes. :)

Susan--thank you, it has been good.

Best Part--lucky indeed!

Optimistic--thank you, and I adore the name Frances!

Elisa--thank you, it's not easy--but then again, nothing worthwhile ever is. (oh, and I love your name)