Sunday, 3 March 2013

In Grandma's Little Shoes

    One of my favourite things to do on the week-end is to sleep in, but more than that, to lie in bed and just listen.  Mine is a noisy house, especially when you are in the centre of the storm.  When you can remove yourself, and just eavesdrop the noise is actually quite beautiful.  I hear their conversations.  I like to listen to the way that Christopher talks to the kids (well sometimes).  I like to listen to the kids playing together.  It really is beautiful.  I appreciate how blessed that I am when I am a little removed.
    Yesterday morning I lay in bed, in my warm and comfy bed, listening as I usually do.  There was the usual cacophony of noise, but yesterday there was a new sound.  "Clip, clip, Clap", "Clip, clip, Clap.", followed by peels of giggles.  "Daddy, do you like my high heels?" this came from Elly.  "I still can't believe that Great Grandma's shoes fit me!" this was from Riley.  I lay there listening, but found my thoughts drifting to my tiny little Grandma, and the joy she had unknowingly brought to my two little girls... and to me.
    Friday afternoon we interred my Grandmother's ashes.  She was a simple woman and did not want any fuss made.  Her children respected her wishes, and there was no fuss.  Afterwards my Aunt Paulette asked if we wanted to go back to Grandma's apartment and have some lunch.  It was very nice.  My cousins were there, and my cousin had brought one of his little girls.  After some initial shyness the kids all played together, as only children can.  Children have the gift of making strangers friends.  Their laughter could be heard throughout the apartment.  It seemed funny to be there without Grandma.  It seemed funny not to hear her funny little laugh.
    While we were there we helped Aunt Paulette box up some of Grandma's clothes.  This was a really tough job for Aunt Paulette I would have to think.  As we would take things out of the drawers we would hold up Grandma's tiny little clothes and marvel at their size.  I called my 8 year old Riley in and tried one of Grandma's shirts on her.  It was just a little too small for Riley.  When we opened up the closet we found a wall full of neatly arranged shoes.  Turns out the my Grandma had quite an impressive amount of beautiful tiny clothes and tiny little shoes.  When my two little girls caught site of all of those tiny little shoes they could not help themselves.  Both had to try them on.  It turns out that Grandma and Riley took the same size shoe.  Riley was delighted when Aunt Paulette asked if she would like to take them home.  Riley was beside herself.  Soon there was a tiny voice, faced turned up, "Aunt Paulette.... could I have some of those high heels?"  Big smile from Aunt Paulette, "Yes you can Elly."
    My Grandma was not a terribly affectionate person.  When you would hug Grandma she would stand there and allow you to hug her, but you knew that it made her uncomfortable.  It was not until the very last visit that I had with Grandma this January, that I ever received a real hug.  Dad and I had gone to Toronto for a doctor's appointment and stopped off to see Grandma on our way home.  I did not know that it would be the last time I would ever see her again.  Dad and I tried to leave for about half an hour, and every time we would say that we had to go, Grandma would start a new conversation.  Finally we got up.  When we left we hugged her good bye.  It was that very last hug that I ever received that she did not passively allow me to hug her, but she actually hugged me back, not really wanting to let me go.
    When we were helping Aunt Paulette package up Grandma's things we came across stacks of pictures.  That little woman who never really outwardly showed affection had kept every single scrap of paper, every newspaper clipping.  There was my parent's wedding invitation, my wedding invitation, my sister's wedding invitation, all looking as crisp and new as when they were first sent.  They were all there, preserved in time.  She had kept every Christmas card we had sent, every picture that we had ever sent her.  There were the envelopes that they were sent in, opened, and then collected, elastics around them.  She loved us.  She loved us, she just couldn't seem to show it.
    We left Grandma's apartment for the last time ever.  If felt strange to know that I would never visit that tiny little lady again.  We left with a garbage bag full of tiny shoes and two happy little girls.  As we drove away, I took one last look, taking it all in.  This was the last time I would ever be here.  I hadn't thought I would feel this way, but I did.  Death's finality is a funny thing.  Death sometimes makes you look at things differently.
    My house is filled with the clip clap of tiny little shoes, on tiny feet.  Shoes that my sister and I loved to put on and stomp around my Grandma's house in, until that fateful day that our feet became bigger than Grandmas.  My girls have that little connection with their Great- Grandma.  I know that my Grandma loved me, but just couldn't show it.  My Grandma was 91.  91 seems like it's old, and yet there is never enough time.  It comes back to my mantra, "Life is too short to leave things unsaid."  Don't put off it off, because you never know if you will get that second chance.

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