Thursday, October 4, 2012

So My Heart Could Be Free

I can't remember how old I was, I can only tell by the span of the small waist and length of crushed velvet to the floor that I must have been five or six. The fabric was supple and soft to the touch, a rich brown that meant cold weather and fancy occasions. I was so proud to have this dress, excited at the prospect of my Grandma making something so beautiful for me with her own hands. I remember standing stock-still in her basement while she worked at pinning me up with her gnarled hands, smoke rising from her lit cigarette that burned my eyes. I remember the turned down collar trimmed in lace, the formality of the skirt, the way I felt that I had never owned anything so lovely in my entire life.

My grandmother was an amazing woman, soft and kind, generous, always stylish, a fabulous entertainer, a woman gentle with her words and always with a glimmer in her eye. My brain still smells the rich aroma of mushrooms cooking in butter, the treat of a special goose for Christmas or the simple pleasure of her legendary dinner rolls. She was a woman that did things from scratch, who worked to create good things, who taught me about quality. She's say "hold out for the real McCoy, Frances", meaning it was better to spend money on a few high-quality things rather than waste money on things that would quickly break or ruin. I wear her beautiful gold bracelet today, the smoothness worn by her own wrist now touching mine. I can feel her in these moments, this woman who was a refuge for me in every way. Thinking of her and her absence in my life makes my heart ache.

I rode to work with a friend today, telling her of some of the sadness and loneliness I'd felt during my elementary school years, trying to explain the complexities of my life in a small town and being from a family with a certain name. The rest of my day was speckled with reflections of what brought me through that time and about what a child needs to feel loved and secure in the world. My grandmother provided a calm stability in my life. She bought me stacks of books to escape into and spirited me away to New Mexico so my heart could be free in the purple mountains and fire-orange sky. She taught me how to hold my head high when I felt defeated and to knuckle through rough times knowing that things would get better. She was optimistic and thankful for the good life she had, the family she loved and the friends that gathered around her table. She saw the best in people, would always lend a gracious hand, appreciated what she was given and was generous in return. As a child, observing her way of being in the world gave me hope that one day I would be the same kind of lady that she was, through and through.

I look at my sweet Ava, the lean and lanky size nearly a perfect fit for my faded brown dress. I think of how precious and tender the heart of a six year old can be. I think of flashing blue eyes, white hair, the color of perfectly red lipstick. I think of warm comfort. I think of love. I am thankful.

(Ava G original alongside my treasured gold bracelet from Grandma Loosen)



  1. Beautiful. Only now am I able to reflect on my relationship with my grandmother and see it for the love it was.
    Your thoughts and words show great admiration and it is apparent you carry on many of her talents.