These are the signs of her love
There were many, many conversations over many, many years when my grandmother -- sports fanatic, homemade noodle maker, quilter and card shark -- would comment on my life through my horoscope. When I was sad about a boy, she would nod in understanding and say something like, "Well, honey, your horoscope's been saying romance is on hold until the next full moon." If it was something at school, she'd say she was sure I'd do well since Aries had a solid 8 for hard work all week. She'd send me a crisp twenty if she noted everyone born in my sign was suffering from financial difficulties or call to see if I'd spoken with my brother since his sign kept mentioning being out of sorts.
It wasn't a blatant or intrusive or even judgmental. My grandmother certainly wasn't ruled by the stars. Sure, she read horoscopes, all her children's and grandchildren's and great-grandchildren's astro-reports, in fact. Somehow for her, though, the planets were a kind of validation to be inserted like the weather or a click of the tongue, pat of the arm or the story of she and her siblings jumping off the barn roof with only umbrellas to catch their fall.
It was a nod to the many ways she knew us so well, like how she made us each our own favorite desserts when we came to visit. My mother got grape pie, with bunches of luscious black grapes meticulously peeled and pitted and baked to perfection. My brother would make his way through a pan of brownies made with bananas and I always knew there'd be a confetti angel food cake cooling on the counter for me.
Those horoscopes entwined in our talks were the same as the songs she sang in the dark of her room, in the spot next to her in the old, wobbly double bed saved just for me. Even into adulthood, she'd rub my back and sing Winken and Blinken and Nod to me as I settled in and she sank into sleep herself. When I wasn't visiting, other cousins shared that spot too. And each of us had our turn getting her full attention in that way you always want your grandmother to hear you fully, see you starry-eyed, laugh with you heartily, enfold you in her arms completely.
My grandmother wasn't perfect. She was insistent upon needing to lose ten pounds until five years ago when Alzheimer's turned her attention to the innermost parts of her memory. She could be critical and harsh and sometimes held on to beliefs she was raised up with that not all people were created equal. There were tense moments and tough times. But there were -- and are -- many more aspects of my grandmother that eclipsed those dark parts.
No, she wasn't perfect. But my grandmother had perfect moments. They were little observances and offerings, given inside the parentheses of everyday conversations and sliced gingerly and served at her kitchen table. Those little gifts came just because I was born to the family and in that, to her. It came as easy as the sun sets, the moon rises, the planets turn, songs are sung and horoscopes outline our days in two simple sentences.
In the galaxy that is the world, the constellation that is our family, those tiny rotations between my grandmother and I made me feel like the most special girl in the world.
This is an original post to Chicago Moms Blog. Jessica Ashley also spills the secrets of being a newly-single mother, shoe lust and her silly, silly boy on her blog Sassafrass. Jessica's grandmother will be 100 years old next month and although she doesn't recognize her granddaughter anymore, still contentedly sings along to those night time songs.