Friday, May 9, 2014

Mother's Mother

These were taken one recent morning

when I happened to glance eastward as I was getting dressed for work.

The entire scene changed within what seemed like seconds.

This last one looks nothing like it did in real life.  One of these days I'll take that photography class I've been meaning to take.

But it's amazing how things work.  If I hadn't glanced for no reason at that particular moment, I'd have missed the few moments the sun was saying hello.

A similar event happened to me Thursday night.

It all started Wednesday night, actually, at Daughter Maria's soccer game against West Point.  I took my perch high in the stands as I always do to better absorb all the sights around me, including the game.  One person leaning against the fence on the sidelines caught my attention.  For the life of me I cannot explain why I was staring at him.  He looked like another Mathews parent except I knew it was someone different.

The whole first half of the soccer game passed by without event.

Then, for no particular reason at all, the pieces of the puzzle fell in place.  I recognized this individual from my years at UVA.  His name was P. Diggs, from West Point, and I met him at a fraternity party at UVA.  We clicked because in those days before internet and social media, it was unusual to randomly meet someone from a small town in your area.

So that mystery had been solved; staring could now cease.  There he was along the sidelines, all these years later, at Mathews High school of all places, cheering on his son who plays soccer for West Point.

Fast forward to Thursday evening. At the dinner table my son Sam announces that he needs three pictures of himself (baby, toddler and middle school) for the impending graduation ceremony in June.  "When do you need them by?" I asked.  Naturally, his response was, "Tomorrow."

Rifling through boxes and boxes of old photos buried away in my closet, I happened upon a letter my mother's mother--my favorite grandmother--wrote me when I was in college.


October 1983

Mrs. Bernice Jones
PO Box 732
Gloucester, VA 23061

Dear Janice,

Saturday I walked to the Safeway store and got this tablet so I could write you a letter.  I could hardly get back as I was so stiff.  I don't know whether it's old age or a little bit of everything.

I hope you are eating well.  Don't eat too much spaghetti as you will get fat.

Did you see the West Point Diggs?  Be sure you don't go on any wild parties.

You will be home in four more weeks.

Middle Sis and Baby Sis have been playing basketball.  Winning games.

The weather has been bad this week.  I haven't been out very much, so I am waiting to see some sun.

Write and tell me what you have been doing this week as this is the only news I get.

Be  good to yourself.  

I love you,



There is one more piece of information I need to share before I attempt to tie all this seemingly random information together into one less-than-random package.

Thursday morning--after the soccer game where I saw "the West Point Diggs" mentioned to and by my grandmother more than 30 years earlier--I made a last-ditch effort to transplant one more batch of daffodils from a section of the field that my mother says came from this same grandmother in Gloucester.

So, let's recap.

Wednesday I randomly see someone from college, 30 years later at a soccer game at Mathews High School, where the chances of me running into someone from college are nigh on nonexistent.  I spend most of Thursday morning transplanting my favorite grandmother's daffodil bulbs to my yard.  Thursday night, my son drops a bomb at the supper table that he needs three photos of himself from childhood, and I race to the closet and start digging.  One of the first things I (randomly?) see is a letter from that same grandmother--who asks about the very same fellow I happened to see the night before at a soccer game.

When I read the letter, I burst into tears. The combination of having spent the morning moving bulbs originally from her property to finding a letter written in her own handwriting talking about the same person she and I chatted about all those years before just hit me like a tidal wave.

None of this may make sense to anyone else, but it makes some sense to me.  That grandmother and I always had a special connection.  Perhaps this sequence of events was all coincidence.  Perhaps it wasn't. Perhaps Chesapeake Bay Woman is finally losing it.  Perhaps she's fortunate enough to have made a connection, however briefly, with a grandmother she adored.

Either way, one of the greatest gifts I could receive this Mother's Day weekend is that of reading her words in her handwriting to me.


p.s. I love you too, Nanny. And I miss you very much. Also, I took your advice and don't eat a lot of spaghetti.  But I do eat too many chips with salsa.  Oh, and I did attend a few parties in college, only one or five of which could be categorized as wild.  The wildest thing I do now, you'd be happy to know, is jump up and down at basketball and soccer games cheering on your great-granddaughter. Now with a cowbell, which just arrived in the mail yesterday, much to your great-granddaughter's chagrin.


Happy Mother's Day to everyone--including and especially my own wonderful mother who is also called Nanny by my son and daughter.


Annie said...

Wonderful story, especially for Mother's Day. You have inspired me to try to post something of a similar vein on my blog, which has been sadly neglected of late.

You also inspire me to go through piles of things, treasures, papers, letters and sort and store them and preserve or throw them for the benefit of future generations.

Have a great weekend. And keep on cheering for those special kids..and family!

Anonymous said...

I totally get it..I was very close to my grandmother--and grandfather, as well.( My mom was divorced soon after I was born, so I stayed at my grandparents' home while she worked, for the first seven yrs. of my life. I saved letters both of them had written, and reading them affects me the same way.)
All the eras collide, as you are brought back to your youth, while you travel the memory trail with old photos and realize your son is graduating soon. The poignant situation of the daffodil legacy is no doubt a painful change, too. When my older son got married, I got caught in such a vortex of era collisions and barely survived, lol.
I hope CBMom Waverly has a great day Sunday, she has raised some rare and special daughters. You yourself deserve the best Mother's Day ever !

growing wild on waverly lane said...

I miss my mother every day and wish I could talk to her again. I miss my father too. There were four brief years when we all lived together in harmony. They were the best of my life.

Deltaville Jamie said...

Makes complete sense to me. I don't believe in coincidence. I believe wholeheartedly that our loved ones who have passed send messages to us to let us know they're still part of our lives. The question is more do we notice than are they sending them. Wrote about it on my ghost blog a while back love the photos! And I'd have to argue that there are also wild gator rides that might be one of the wildest things you get into these days. Love the cowbell!

deborah said...

Hello! Wishing you and your mother a Happy Mother's Day!
Very poignant story - be sure to write to your son when he is away at school, he will cherish them one day too. I wish I had kept the letters my grandmother and mother wrote me through my teen years. My memories of them mean so much to me. x0x0

Dghawk said...

Beautiful sunrise and a wonderful story. I don't believe in coincidence. I believe every thing happens for a reason. For instance, I have been thinking a lot of my late husband recently, that our 25th anniversary would be coming up here shortly, and that I lost all my wedding pictures when the house burned. Well, in the mail the other day, was an envelope full of pictures from my wedding reception from a very dear friend who ran across them while "organizing" her closet and thought I would like to have them. My husband is watching over me and your Grandmother is watching over you and she is letting you know all will be well.

Or we all have just entered the twilight zone.

Karen Deborah said...

I don't believe in random even though am that way. I believe in divine appointments. I love it that all these things happened for you in such a sweet special way.

Daryl said...

such a wonderful post .. and there is no such thing as coincidence … she was connecting with you for sure

Meg McCormick said...

Aw, that's adorable! Even the spaghetti part. :-) Yesterday was mother's day, and for reasons too complicated to go into here, I had a difficult time getting through the church service - words and music were hitting home and I had trouble maintaining my composure. As I was leaving, I heard the beginning of the postlude - a hymn I didn't really know until we sang it at my maternal grandma's funeral, 22 years ago, but I remember it, and I remember her almost daily to this day. It was as if the deities had conspired to knock me between the eyes and say, LISTEN UP AND PAY ATTENTION, Meg. And I did.