Her Mother’s Hope started with something Mom said shortly after Grandma died. After Grandma had a stroke, Mom and Dad drove south, speeding to be at her side. She died before they arrived, and Mom said, “I think she willed herself to die so we couldn’t talk things out.”
Mom and Grandma had been estranged because my parents wanted to retire in Oregon, and this meant selling their home and the cottage they had built where Grandma lived next door. Grandma wanted things to stay the same. Mom and Dad wanted a better quality and more affordable retirement. They moved Grandma in with my aunt in Merced and headed north, “setting up camp” in a 16-foot trailer on their forty acre parcel of forest, which was choked with “slash” from previous lumbering. They dug a well, cleared a building site and started work on their new home, building it from the ground up with their own hands.
It took eighteen months of hard work. The beautiful new home was designed with possible future disabilities in mind — wider halls and doorways and lower counter in case either of them -or Grandma – needed wheelchair access. They invited Grandma to move in with them. She said there was nothing in Oregon she wanted to see. My mother took that to mean Grandma didn’t want to see her.
Words can wound the heart deeply. Writing the story of Marta and Hildemara helped me look at other possibilities of why Grandma seemed so unforgiving, what deep hurts and fears and misunderstandings might have kept her away. Family members don’t always share their life stories and the painful events that shaped their thinking. And sometimes the next generation makes the same tragic mistakes.
Things to ponder:
Do I need to make amends to anyone in my family? Is there something in my past that I should share so my children can avoid the same mistakes? Can I move past the hurt and fear, and extend grace without expectations?