Monday, May 29, 2006
After Grandfather died, Grandmother had no home. She stayed with each of her grown children until the moon grew bright and full, then she moved on.
“Grandmother,” I asked one day as we sat under a tree and brushed each other’s coal black hair. “Daddy said we’re moving, no more cotton to pick.”
As I braided her hair, her leathery face curled in thought.
“He said we wouldn’t have a house. We’ll be living in a tent. I’m scared of not having a home.”
“My little one,” Grandmother spread her arms wide, “Don’t be afraid, this is our home. Every blade of grass, every leaf on every tree, every grain of sand is our home and the home of all things.
“What do you mean grandmother?” I asked while I tucked golden leaves in the dark plaits of her hair.
“Come with me and I’ll show you.”
We watched the squirrels build their nests, leaf by leaf. We watched the ants dig their tunnels, rolling each grain of sand with care. We watched a caterpillar spin its cocoon and beavers pile stick upon stick until they sheltered their young. We took cover from the rain in a cave, and rested in the cool shade of the trees.
“Home is where your family is,” Grandmother said.
I learned home is where you make it.
Grandmother moved on to my uncle’s place, but promised to return with the Planting Moon.
Whenever the moon was bright and round, I watched for Grandmother. One night I saw her long shadow stretch in front of her as she walked up the lane. She had her one bag slung over her shoulder and her feather bed rolled up under her arm.
I ran to meet her.
“Grandmother, I never thought you’d find us? Aren’t you afraid of walking in the dark?”
“My little one,” she said, “the moon follows me and shows me the way. I am never alone or lost with its light guiding my path.”
“Grandmother, what do you mean?”
“I will show you, little one.”
We watched the moon, night after night. It grew smaller and then grew larger. Wherever we went, the moon bathed us in its silvery light. We planted corn under the full moon. We watched the deer and raccoons the bats and the possums. We listened to the night songs of crickets. She taught me to count the days by the moon’s many faces.
Grandmother went away, but promised to return with the harvest moon. I learned to count the days until grandmother’s return.
Four full moons waxed and waned before the Harvest Moon lead Grandmother to our door. I showed her the tall corn we planted together many months before. We walked hand in hand between the green walls. She whispered stories in my ear.
“Grandmother,” I asked one day. “Why do the corn leaves shush, shush, shush in the wind?”
“Little one,” she said, “lie down with me near the corn, and feel the pulse of life in the earth and listen to the prayer of thanks from the corn as it stretches its arms toward the sun.”
I lay still on the cool ground. I felt the Earth’s pulse and listened to Earth’s many songs of life. Grandmother said, “When you touch Mother Earth, you know you are alive and part of the ground and the sky and the water and all living things.” She taught me to feel the life within myself and to feel the life in every blade of grass and in every leaf on the tree.
I laid my head on grandmother and felt her beating heart and learned her song of life.
“Grandmother,” I said to her one day. “Let’s wade in the creek. I’ll show you how to make leaf boats.”
We sat on a big flat rock, making our leaf boats. The water eddied around our feet.
“Grandmother, why we do we have the same crooked baby toes?
“Little one,” she said, “Be proud of your toes. Many great warriors and wise women had the same toes. It is a mark of our family, of our people. Just as water flows in this creek, our ancestors flow through you.”
We waded in the stream with our bare feet. We sailed our leaf boats and picked up pebbles. Grandmother said, “Father Water knows the beautiful pebble within each rock that waits patiently inside until it is freed.” She placed a smooth stone in my hand. It warmed to my touch.
“This is your patience stone,” she said. “Hold it and remember all things in their time.” I held my stone and learned to wait and to dream.
Grandmother’s long shadow trailed behind her under the Winter Moon. She promised to return to help me plant corn again.
Three full moons passed.
I learned Grandmother would never return.
She is now with my grandfather and our ancestors in her forever home.
But grandmother is part of all things around me. She is the earth, the sky, the wind and the water.
When I miss her, I lie on the earth and feel her beating heart.
I look at the corn and see her stretching to the sky.
I listen to the wind and hear her stories whispered in my ear.
I wade in the creek and feel her life song and the songs of our ancestors flow through me.
She taught me to feel the earth, to breath the wind, and to taste the sky.
When I feel lost or alone, I hold my smooth stone. It warms to my touch and I remember: “All things in their time.”
At night I look up at Grandmother Moon and know that she is with me. She follows me wherever I go. Her words fill my heart and her spirit lights my path.
Photo of moon available through allposters.com (Cold Moon Giclee Print 18 x 24 in Baogui Zhang)
Posted by auntgeorge at Monday, May 29, 2006