Saturday, June 23, 2007

Summer in Somerset

I was about ten years old when Granny invited me to spend two weeks of the summer with her. My brothers weren't invited, nor my parents, just me. Given the throng of our cousins and large family that typically gathered at the South Texas ranch, to be there by myself and have Granny's undivided attention was a real treat.

I'm sure we ate beans and tortillas every meal, I really don't remember. But I would remember if it had been something different, as that's the only meal Granny seemed to serve, period. And we all loved it. I especially loved the tortillas... big surprise.

Each day we walked up and down the dirt road from the house to the big oak at the highway. I forget how many laps made a mile, but Granny knew, and we walked 3 miles every day. I don’t remember constant conversation on those walks, though we would not have been at a loss for words. Being outside in nature was soothing for her, therapeutic, and she simply appreciated a slight breeze, the tall green grass that didn't have to be mowed, and swaying mesquite trees that provided pockets of shade in the sprawling front lawn.

We swam in the pool each evening and performed water ballet routines under the watchful eyes of cattle and horses grazing just beyond the barbed-wire fence. Granny's long, slender body every bit as agile as mine, I thought of her as a modern day Audrey Hepburn. Hair pulled back from her face, cheekbones prominent even without rouge, I can still see her sitting gracefully on the side of the pool with the silver Somerset water tower and huge oak trees framing her silhouette.

Granny told and retold stories, and I listened with delight, even when I already knew the ending. I’m sure I told my share as well. Granny appreciated stimulating conversation, so much so that she could dialogue with, laugh with, and even argue with animals out of necessity to keep her mind sharp. Even though I offered a mere decade of insight, she was interested in my thoughts and opinions on things like politics, relationships and movie stars.

We stayed up until wee hours of the night, and I mean really wee hours... we read aloud to each other from her stash of books filled with quotes, quips and jokes. She laughed loud and long at the jokes I read... as I would come across ones that amused her, I read them over and over again, her laughter never subsiding. She loved the written word, and in those midnight hours we celebrated the beauty of poetry and prose alike.

Granny told me later the highlight of our time together that summer was when we went to her weekly painting class, and her teacher recognized me as her granddaughter. "You must be here with Gladys," he said when he saw me, though I’d never met him before. Granny got a kick out of the fact that our resemblance was so strong.

I look back on that summer with great tenderness, grateful for the time Granny poured into me, and for the intimacy that comes with shared interests. And grateful for a strong resemblance...

5 comments:

"Bluebonnet in the snow" said...

TJ - I didn't really have any comments of my own, but I thought I'd share the overall comments that we had last night. We all thought that your piece was very sweet and evoked memories of times with our own grandmothers. The one thing that several of us thought could be improved was that it ended awkwardly. You have a wonderful style that paints a beautiful picture of such a sweet time.

TJ Wilson said...

bits - thanks for the comment, i totally agree with the ending. talk about procrastinating, i started writing that at 11:00 pm (sat) and posted it by about 12:30. enough with my excuses, but i appreciate the observation. sounds like the mtg was a good one.

spaghettipie said...

TJ - All I can say is "ditto" to BITS. (ha! that sounds funny) It makes me wish to have known your Granny.

onevoice said...

TJ - I like your style of writing and I'm jealous that it was this good at the last minute! And I have to say that I actually disagreed with most of the group because I loved the ending. It seemed very subtle to me and I felt I knew exactly what you meant.
-Andrea

TJ Wilson said...

Andrea - as you get to know me, you'll find my love language is 99% encouraging words. Thanks for your words! :)
Tina - you would have loved Granny, she died a few months after I married. She would certainly rival our late-night hours!