Summer kisses

Besides being a saver, a sewer, a survivor, and a farm woman of the Nebraska prairie, my grandmother was a hider.

An expert hider. What she hid was unlikely to be found. Sometimes even by her.

She hid presents. She hid treasures. She hid tidbits. She hid this-n-that.

She hid it so well that, come Christmas or birthday or tax day or cleaning day, there was a chance that the hidden thing Рno matter how essential to the celebration, task, or event Р sometimes never did unhide itself, no matter how much searching or looking or seeking.

The end result was that sometimes when my grandma was looking for an important hidden bank statement, she found instead the previous year’s Christmas present for a distant relative. Or when she was looking for an important Christmas present, she found instead next year’s birthday present (already wrapped but without a recipient’s name indicated anywhere). Or when she was looking for a new box of baking soda she might find an important letter that she’d needed last year.

I learned a lot of things from my grandmother. One of them was to not be a hider, mostly because I know I would be even less successful at finding hidden treasures than she was. (I struggle to find even the unhidden treasures.)

Still, her blood runs thick in my veins.

So on this hot, humid, miserably damp July day, it was quite a treat to reach back into the cupboard in search of honey and find this instead:

Photo: CKirgiss
Photo: CKirgiss

In all their miniature glory, these two lost-and-founds are my grandmother (who hid things), my grandfather (who loved sweet things), and the incarnated babe (whose birth was the beginning of finding all lost things).

These two lovelies have been patiently waiting alongside the Pyrex bowls for eight months, ready since last December to unexpectedly brighten someone’s day.

Mission accomplished.

Knowing and Known

Photo: CKirgiss (Otto and Alice Jacobsen)

Eighty years ago yesterday, my Norwegian immigrant grandparents were wed in Orange, New Jersey – separated from their parents by both an ocean’s roaring expanse and a generation’s widening gap.

My bestefar died when I was only seven, my bestemor when I was eight. That was a long time ago. So long that I don’t remember much about them. Hardly anything at all, in fact. What I do remember certainly doesn’t look anything like the picture above.

Grandparents have a certain something that identifies them from a distance. A look. A gait. A tip of the head. A style. An air. It has little to do with age in some cases, and much to do with wisdom in most cases.

The people in this picture are not my grandparents. They are strangers to me. I don’t recognize their youth. Their style. Their poise. Their intimacy that is so mysteriously visible it makes my heart ache. With joy. With sadness.

Who are these people?

I want to meet them. To hear their story. To ask them questions. To know who they were before they became my grandparents, before they were the quiet man who carefully peeled his boiled potatoes and the kindly woman who gently cared for the quiet man.

The years make little sense. Youth. Age. Past. Future. Then. Now. Was. Is. Here. Gone.

It all starts to jumble together after awhile. We wake up one day and realize that we are no longer grandchildren (but will always feel like we are), that our own children have grown (how did this happen?), and that with each breath, we move ever-so-slightly closer to becoming someone’s memory, whether in fact or photograph. (Yes – the seasons of the year often mirror the seasons of my soul.)

This would all be desperately heartbreaking if not for the promise of new life and new breath that waits for us not just on the other side of this world but in the here-and-now. The sadness of my grandparents’ deaths does not define my soul. The weight of my own mortality does not measure my existence. The reality of all life’s fragility does not color my faith.

Rather, it fills me with wonder. With awe. With expectant pause. Because though I will never really know the people in this picture (and oh, I would so very much like to know them), the Almighty Creator knows me.

I. Am. Known.

And that is enough.