The gift of good memories – that’s what she gave me, and many others. My maternal grandmother Nona Mae Knight Prichard lived a long and valuable life, contributing hope and encouragement while maintaining a strong barrier against the forces that can knock us down: discouragement, despair, loneliness and regret.
The best part of growing up, hands down – the annual visits to Sunflower County, Mississippi. Early on out in the country by Macon Lake, and later in the very small town of Inverness.
Driving there recently, I felt the pull of these good memories like a strong magnet. I made the trip to visit the cemetery where my grandmother was laid to rest. The air was alive with memory; a breeze lifted the leaves on a nearby tree, and scores of dragonflies hovered high in the air like living kites.
The time shared in the company of someone you deeply love makes a mark on you. Though she was like all of us – imperfect – my grandmother had values that I admire. To focus on blessings and be thankful, to invite everyone to the table – including ex’s, new spouses – I mean, everyone, and to always love deeply the things that are most special about a person.
It was a gift she had – to recognize someone’s passion or that thing that made them light up – and get them talking about it. She also had a knack for the small details that made gatherings special – the ever-present red and green foil-wrapped Hershey’s kisses, Mr. and Mrs. Claus skating on a mirrored surface on the coffee table in the same spot every year, and that moment of arrival where she burst through the front door to come out and welcome you. That moment made the long drive well worth the effort.
As I knelt and placed roses on her grave, I thanked her for all of these good memories. They are strong enough to last a lifetime.