If My Heart had Wings

Four Generations
Four Generations

Some days, I miss her so much I can almost feel her next to me, in front of me…taking my face in her papery hands and drawing me close to kiss my cheek.

She wasn’t always old, though.

We lived a number places together: the Green House in the hills of Granby, an apartment in Simsbury and then, later, a raised ranch further up the street. Wherever she was felt like home to me.

At almost any moment, I can recall her. The feel of her. The smell of her. The sound of her voice. Her raspy laugh.

Most days, when between chores, she sat in her wingback, velour-covered chair…deep blue, I think, with white flowers…watching game shows, rustling through her “rags” (her pet name for the tabloids) or puzzling out a crossword with an erasable pen.

At least once a week she would say, “OK, Nichole, how about you brush my hair for a bit?”

I can’t say I loved it, but I didn’t hate it either. There was something relaxing, meditative in those quiet, focused moments.

I stood behind the blue chair, holding her ivory-colored hairbrush and running my thumb over the raised golden letters on the handle. The gold paint was wearing away. I don’t remember what they spelled out. Vidal maybe.

While she watched Days of Our Lives or Guiding Light, I silently brushed her baby-soft, short, blond (and later, white) hair, gentle stroke after gentle stroke, careful to avoid the mole at the back of her neck. The one she always talked about having removed but never did.

I can still smell the static electricity and Pall Mall cigarettes.

Afterward, she would let me climb into her lap, her polyester pants rough against my unweathered palms. And we would watch television together.

She was a constant. Steady as the sun. The dry, soft shore of my sometimes stormy life. 

And there was more. So much more:

Sitting across from her at the dining room table each morning, beneath warm lights, sleepy and leaning on the white tablecloth. We spread Jif peanut butter on perfectly toasted Arnold’s white bread, her black Folger’s coffee steaming next to the morning crossword puzzle.

Walking to the apartment laundromat and back, three times a week, tri-folding warm, plush towels that smelled of Bounce fabric softener.

Dredging almost everything – peas, corn, beans, pork, ham – through her buttery, creamy, salty, homemade mashed potatoes.

The way she would whistle entire songs as she boiled eggs or washed the dishes.

And as I grew older:

Listening to her tell stories of growing up on the farm, attending a one room school house and later, spending her lunch money on ice cream sundae’s at Doyle’s Drugstore down the street from her high school .

Sitting next to her on her bed watching Wheel-of-Fortune, Fox News, NCIS and discussing politics or baseball or golf or family and friends.

Bringing her crab cakes from Stonington or lilacs from my yard.

My gifts always so small, so insignificant, so slight compared to the weight of my love for her. Did she know? Did she know how much I loved her? How much I still love her? How much I’ll always, til the end of time, love her?

Photo by J.Perreault. Used with permission.
Photo by JP. Used with permission.

She’s the place. My Grandma. She’s the place where I would go if I my heart had wings.

© Nichole Liza Q.


Written for Writing 101 | A Room with a View.  Read more about my Grandma here and here.

14 thoughts on “If My Heart had Wings

Add yours

  1. I thought your post was very interesting. The descriptions really gave a feel for your grandmother. But it wasn’t just the descriptions of her that gave the piece the feeling but your interactions within those descriptions.

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