Monday, October 11, 2004

Comfort and Danger

My grandmother will be 96 years on Thursday, and tonight we had a small party for her.

My brothers and sister who live nearby came. And their children were there, too.

We sang 'Happy Birthday' by candelight, and I watched as she looked at all the faces surrounding the table.

I had the distinct sense she was taking it all in to store somewhere. Perhaps she was taking a mental picture. And I knew that perhaps my brothers and sisters were doing the same...storing up a memory for when she is gone.

But I have another memory of Granny that I often think about.

I had to be about five, maybe six years old. I was asleep one night in Vermont, and she came in the room to get in her bed. I woke up and watched her get ready. Then she climbed in to sleep.

Just then a storm rose up, and thunder shook the room with great loud claps. And the quick flashes of lightning made it seem that danger was coming and something terrible would soon happen.

I got out of bed and asked if I could sleep with her, and, as she let me in, she asked what was the matter. She calmed me, saying that storms were nothing to fear. She said that we were safe, inside and warm.

Then she drew me up on the bed, and we knelt looking out the window above it, up into the sky, watching eagerly for the next strikes.

I think we watched the darkness above a nearby hill for a little while, looking for lightning strikes and then listening for the thunder. It was good to watch the danger, to feel it from a safe place.

No comments: