A letter to my grandmother

You passed away today. The funny thing is, that you weren’t actually my grandmother, not biologically. But you decided to accept me as your grandchild, something a young child never fully understands until many years later.

I sit here, wondering if I have any regrets: things I should have done differently; said differently. Times I should have spent with you but for whatever reason at the time, chose not to.

I could live in this space and get swallowed by the quicksand of ‘should haves’ but if I do, I may never break free. I cannot spend my time tracking the wallowing mud into my heart’s house, and I do not believe that you would want me to live out even a day in regret.

Mind you, it’s so easy to sit down and begin the journey into the past, neglecting the good moments and focussing on the ones that could have been. I wasn’t always kind to you; wasn’t always understanding, and certainly did not give you the respect a grandmother probably always deserves.

As a teen, I am certain I caused you heartache, never fully comprehending the magnitude that is taking on someone else’s child as your own family. I am not sure, that even at 40, I really understand it now.

But this is what you did. You, my grandfather, and the rest of the family, accepted that I came along as part of the deal. Many times I recall the story of Pa taking me down the street and introducing me as his granddaughter.

I remember the old house in Young, too. Dark heavy bricks, a fortress in the front where you could hide. Cool and inviting on a hot day, a spot to see the lay of the land. Dad and his brothers and sister must have played in this garden, sat on this wall, hid amongst these bricks.

This was a place of safety away from the things little girls cannot come to terms with.

A father who leaves, knowingly shying away from the responsibility of fatherhood. A man who becomes a father, willingly embracing a child that will never resemble his family line. A family who take in their stride a frightened little girl who wants to protect her mother and wants to fall in love with this man who holds her mother so tight.

These are the small things that my mind has held its grip on. A sadness hangs in the spaces where memories should be, but until eternity, may never be filled. The reasons are unclear but the stillness rattles around in these empty spaces. I am sure that there were many conversations that have been muted and I wonder what we talked about in those early days.

But I do remember trees, glistening orange and gold, touched by the autumn suns fingertips. I remember the question. I remember your answer, as these bronzed soldiers stood tall in ever occurring lines as we whizzed by. Poplars. It’s autumn and they are deciduous trees. I remember thinking that deciduous might be the most fantastic word I had ever heard. Their leaves will float away soon when the water begins to shiver and their trunks will still stand tall like grecian columns. Then, their insides will begin to burst forth, budding green fingers laced with soft tendrils and once again, new life will settle in their arms.


photo courtesy of photodune

This memory may now be coloured by my own language, but it is one of just a few that shall remain locked away for safe keeping, and is one of the most potent memories I have: one that is often polished and maintained as I drive past another stand of poplars.

I do wish more of my memories were as well kept and not like the photo-like image I have of the two of us standing in your little apartment, where you introduced me to cauliflower cheese, a dish I still enjoy, and your diaries, where you recorded anecdotal information about your life. I have no memory of conversation, just these two images and the taste of creamy cauliflower melting in my mouth.

I expect this singular moment has impacted my desire to write. I thought you were so cool. A writer! I’ve no idea if I’ve ever read a word, but to me, you must have been a writer, to have penned so many words! I was in awe. Maybe one day I will take those words and bring them back into the light while I sit quietly and ponder a life I knew only too little.

For now though, I must settle with my trees. Goodnight sweet lady. May your days be full of autumn leaves.

When is it time?

When is it ever a good time to share?

To say all there is, and will ever be said?

To open the wounds that they may be healed;

and to waken the heart that to live, must first feel?

When is it a good time to make amends?

To push on the boundaries and break down the fence?

To grab hold of time as if this day it ends,

to say those true words that come only from friends?

When will it be, that we can see we?

Free from the fetters and thorns that conceal

the truth behind eyes that are pained and at loss,

the moments that need to be spoke, hang the cost?

Time is Golden

Now is the time, there is no other way.

No time of the night nor no time of the day

is ever the right one, the best one, the sure:

no one can test time and come out the victor.

Always there’ll be loss, and always such a scar,

that reveals all the time that has passed by so far.

But once wounds are opened, despite the deep pain,

and tended and sutured, time can be regained.

Today be the day where your hand touches mine;

the hurt now forgiven; the healing Divine.

Today be the day when our eyes meet without

the one standing guard and the other, sword out.

May sorrow be wiped out with cloths full of love;

may anger be washed out with dove-purest heart.

Today be the day I see you, you see me.

Today be the day that all pain now be free.

Miriam Miles

The Box

Why do I wait to write? What stifles the compulsion so successfully that I avoid putting pen to paper so often? Why do I hide the key that opens the box inside that I know holds all my truths, my unique voice and my capacity to share it with the world?
vintage key and treasure box
I have a box, and I’ve known about it for some time. I suppose not everyone knows they have one, but we do. I am sure of it. Sometimes I open it up and let a few things out onto paper, letting these truths breathe and develop but then I do the most terrible of things. I carefully tuck them back into the box, close the lid and lock it all up.

Lately, my box is beginning to feel very crowded. I feel numb with the overload and am having trouble putting pen to paper, as it were, and fear that if I do not do something soon, my box may explode and with it, all my carefully developed and protected words will float up into the air like ticket-tape and be lost to the winds forever.

How is it that fear can wrap itself around me so quickly that I am not aware of its strangle hold until it’s nearly too late? Like an anaconda, it seems to move slowly, mesmerising me and hypnotising me into servitude to its will. Suddenly I am no more capable of releasing my words than I am of changing the colour of my skin. It has won another round and succeeded in keeping my treasured truths from the ears and eyes of the world.

I move day after day, in this state of hypnotised thinking, and convince myself that every other pursuit on my list is vitally more significant than what I have known since early childhood was my one thing to do for the world. I can, in this state, even write thousands of words for anyone or anything, as long as it does not touch the core of my own truth.

Under the guise of ‘making a living’ I wrap myself up in my need to pay bills, feed my family and live a comfortable life and let the muscular snakelike body of Fear squeeze the motivation from my soul and use it for these reasonable needs instead of freeing the voice that lives within like Rapunzel in her tower.

Sometimes I ask myself questions. I ask for answers that I already know.  I know the truth of who I am and I know what my writing looks and feels like when I am revealing the contents of my safely guarded box. It’s like honey, so viscous and pure. It looks like mercury as it pours out: freed from my soul it covers me, protecting me and feeding the dry bones that have become brittle from too much exposure to Fear.

And so, I let it free. And I write. Sometimes for hours. Like a steam train it picks up speed, hurtling toward the finish with reckless abandon and all my words glisten with the exhilarating sweat of being set free.

So why is this stuff still sitting on the shelf?

Why I am still stuck?

I have written thousands and thousands of words.  I am wordy by nature and my brain seems completely wired to tell things in detail, to not only jump in the pool and exclaim it is nice, but to describe the ebb and flow of the liquid surrounding my now weightless body.

So why do I wait?

I am afraid.

I know the voice of Fear. It has been my unwelcome companion for more years than I can remember and has succeeded so far to keep me silent. But as I force my eyes open, and struggle free from its hypnotic gaze, I see that perhaps, with my box so full, my words are finding ways to store themselves inside my very being, under my skin even, and soon, there will be no choice but to release them, or die from the suffocating squeeze of Fear, always wondering what would happen if I opened the floodgates and tossed the key.

A life lived wondering over lost dreams is more powerful a motivator now than Fear ever can be.  It is I therefore, who am this box, and the only thing stopping me from moving forward and writing freely, is the key I hold in my hand. Only I stop the flow of  being true to the voice that I have carefully locked away.

Now that I recognise Fear, now that I feel these life-breathing words rippling under my skin, forcing their way to the surface of my fingertips, I have little choice but to release them.