Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A Stranger's Nose

Last night, after work, we went to pick up tickets for a show that we've been wanting to see. On the way home I was confronted by some construction that makes it difficult to get from the street to the sidewalk. They'd lazily made a 'sort of ' ramp that is lumpy and bumpy and more steep than I like. But needs must and I headed on up, two elderly women stopped at the top to give me room, something I appreciated. I glanced at them to say 'Thank you' and I was immediately cast back in time. Falling into memory like I'd tripped into a well. All that and I had to still get my chair onto the side walk and moving along.

One of the women had my grandmother's nose. Grandma Neilsen had a very distinctive nose and it was disconcerting to see it, there, perfectly replicated on another woman's face. This has happened to me before, a couple years ago I remember seeing my Uncle Jim's eyes, there was the time I saw Bob's moustache on the upper lip of a man who looked nothing like him. Each time this happens I'm suddenly knee deep in memory.

Grandma Neilsen was my Grandfather's second wife. His first, my Grandmother by blood, died before I was born. I only knew Grandma Neilsen, or Elaine as she was known to her friends, as Grandma and never thought of her any other way. I remembered several things about her immediately:

She was the worst driver possible. Watching her drive away one prayed for her safety and for there to be no other traffic on the road.

She loved writing letters. She and I exchanged letters for many years as a child. I wrote very long letters and I heard her comment, once, to my mother that my letters were ... she paused ... newsy.

She always had 'city airs' even though she lived on farmland.

I remembered the time, after Grandpa had died, that I was in her house and she was showing me pictures in a photo album and one of them was of Grandpa in his casket. I was shocked, I never seen such a thing before, but she sat there looking at it and crying. I'd never seen her cry. I put my arm around her, something I'd also never done, and we sat there together.

I remember once when she was in a mood I made a crack that I thought was funny, everyone froze waiting for Grandma to respond, and to our surprise she just laughed.

All this and more swirled through my mind and it felt like I was visiting her all over again. It was nice, seeing Grandma's nose ... it was nice to revisit our times together. It was nice to be pulled from now to then, to remember that my life is one continuous story, that now will soon be then, that I want to have a story that's full and that's meaningful and that's fun.

Because one day someone will see my nose on a stranger's face.


wendy said...

So well said.

krlr said...

xoxoxo. I miss my Gigi every day and yet I fear the fact that time will roll on and I might lose those memories. Here's to grandmothers' noses, her favorite cloudy days, the broccoli I wouldn't eat for anyone but her, and that horribly unhealthy tub of "drippings" she kept unrefrigerated that made everything she ever made taste divine.