The morning of August 8th, 2016, I awoke from a “dream” where I visited my great grandmother who we always called Little Grandma.
I found myself in the tiny mountain town where my extended family lived for almost a century and where I spent a lot of my childhood. I was wandering downtown, marveling at all the different kinds of little shops there were – many more than I remember, but they all fit in the same space. I then walked up the street to my great grandma’s cottage and went inside.
My grandma stood there by the stove cooking a lunch of Lima beans in a sauce. She had just taken a loaf of her brown bread out of the oven. She raised her head when I came in, although she didn’t look directly at me since she was blind. She greeted me by name. I responded by asking how she knew it was me. She chuckled and said no one else comes in her door the same way I do. I smiled.
She pointed at her table, “Come set the table so we can have lunch together.” I smiled and set to the task she had given me. It was just like her to give me something to do. There was no slacking in her house. We sat down to lunch just as the noon whistle blew.
As she buttered her bread, she asked me, “Did you see all the little shops people made downtown?” At first, I was a little startled. I never said I was downtown. Then I smiled. Of course she knew where I had been. She was my grandma; she knew everything. I’ve always been astounded at how much a blind woman can see.
I replied “Yes, there sure are a lot of them. I really liked how unique each one is. I even saw yours! It was amazing! So many cool things in it!”
“Now don’t go getting carried away,” she admonished, “It took me a long time to make that little shop – a lot of years, a hefty dose of patience, and a willingness to roll up my sleeves and get the job done. Did you see your space downtown?”
I nodded, “But it doesn’t look anything like yours. It’s not cool like some of the others and no one was coming in to look at it like they were the others.”
“That’s right. You want to know why? Because you just got a bunch of jumbled up pieces. You haven’t really found a focus. You need to get organized. You can have different areas that show different parts of your life, but what are you bringing to the table? How is the town going to benefit from your shop? What are they going to get out of it? So what if your shop isn’t what you envisioned it to be. Make something of it. It doesn’t have to be perfect – in fact at first it will be far from it. Just get started.
“That’s what I hated the most about what your mom did to you. Nothing you did was ever good enough for her. You were held to this ridiculous standard of having to be absolutely perfect. Nobody is perfect, but to her nothing else was acceptable. What happened was that because you couldn’t be perfect, you gave up. What you learned from that was to feel sorry for yourself because you were never perfect and, hence, not good enough.
“I got news for you, none of us are! We just roll up our sleeves and do our best. Sometimes it works out and a lot of times it doesn’t. We do the best we can, and when it’s not good enough, we pick ourselves up and do it again, and again, and again until we get it right.”
I looked down as she spoke, feeling too ashamed to look up. Being incredibly sensitive, I was devastated by her words. I felt the heat of my face turning red as I held back my tears.
Her voice softened, “You’re a lot stronger and a lot more capable than you think. You’re very bright, always have been. You have things to give the world that you don’t even know you have to give yet. This is what you need to work on – to excavate your little shop of messes. So after lunch, you need to go down to your shop and get started. Appreciate what you have there and be proud of what you make of it.”
She reached across the table and patted my hand, “You know I only say these things because I love you. I want you to be the most you can be – to reach your full potential. You are a star. Just because Vera June kept you in the shadows of your brothers and everyone else who she thought was better than you, doesn’t mean she was right.She never did appreciate what a wonderful little girl she had. The rest of us saw it though. You remember that. And remember it’s time you step out of those shadows she put you in. It’s time for you to shine! You’ll have a thriving business in your little shop in no time. You’ll see! Now, finish your lunch before it gets cold.”
I don’t remember eating lunch, but do remember leaving afterwards. My grandma didn’t want help with the dishes, but told me that I had work I needed to get to elsewhere. As I stood by the door, I turned back toward her, “Thank you, Grandma.” She waved her dish towel at me and told me that I had better get going, “The day’s a-wasting.”
I awoke as I walked out the door.