Saturday, October 10, 2009
She lived in a little house, surrounded by many Louisiana acres -- surrounded by quilts which she and her friends had sewn by hand and quilted together around the frame suspended from the ceiling -- surrounded by friends though she lived alone, for the postman would always take a note just down the road to Pinky -- surrounded by the roses and camellias she loved so well -- sheltered always by the huge live oak tree which she had planted as a sapling, its branches a retreat for children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
This old house sheltered us during Hurricane Rita, when we were forced to flee our home too near the coast. This massive oak tree rode the storm as it has so many others, with its branches spread over the house, creaking and groaning in the gale but never breaking or falling. We opened all the windows and doors to let the storm winds pass through, and the old house moaned, but resolutely protected all within its walls. Strength of tree -- strength of house -- we felt her presence during that long night. Her spirit is always there, in the home she loved. The resurrection fern on the mighty oak tree reminds me of a life well lived, and which lives on.
She died many years ago, while her grandson and I were in Saudi Arabia. Government wheels could not spin fast enough to get us home for her funeral. But he has her Bible, and it is precious to him.
And in many ways, we still have Grandma. We have her quilts, the donkey quilt which warmed Neely's childhood, and the wedding quilt with its reels of red and cream calico. Our daughter Andrea has her two childhood quilts -- gifts of Grand's hands -- which comfort her and her husband during cold Chicago winters. We have her old rose bush, transplanted now in our courtyard, and its riot of pink blooms every summer. And every time we visit the old home place, we have her lilies which continue to bloom as though she still tended them.
And perhaps she does.