What is it about wicker furniture that stirs emotions, awakens memories? I wrote a blog about front porches and their role in my life. I used a photo of wicker furniture on a porch. Strong response to that blog.
And the wicker furniture photograph stirred my memories of my Grandmother Alice, my dad's mother. The great grandkids took to calling her Great Alice. She lived to 103. I'd like to say her mind remained sharp but that would be wishful memory creating. She became so befuddled that I stopped visiting her in the nursing home during my annual trips back to my hometown. She no longer knew who I was. I wanted to keep the memory of her as a vibrant, intelligent, private, interesting woman, one I admired even more than I loved her.
She was not a hugger. I don't remember her ever telling me that she loved me. I sensed she was proud of my accomplishments but she never voiced that.
She was a baker of bread and pies, a maker of the best baked beans in the universe. She also owned and ran a motel. And while I loved her skills in the kitchen, I really treasured our conversations as I became a teenager. She was an articulate, informed conversationalist.
Her closed front porch had wicker furniture. That furniture graced my mom's open porch after Great Alice went to the nursing home. When my mother went to the Lord, that furniture moved diagonally across the street to my nephew's porch. That wicker furniture is a bridge from my grandparents to my mother’s great grandchildren.
Great Alice ran her motel from that porch for years. If it was summer or early fall when I visited her, our conversation took place on that porch. If I close my eyes and call up those visits, I memory see her sitting in her wicker chair.
She once voiced views to me on Israel and the leadership of that nation. Her comments revealed her as a watcher and reader of events happening beyond the borders of her mountain community. I wish I had thought to ask my dad what topics were shared at the dinner table when he was growing up. I know that conversations at our dinner table were lively and the topics ran from the mundane to world issues. Did my father bring that family dinner conversation habit to our daily family life? Maybe.
The only photograph I ever saw of my Grandpa John and Great Alice as a couple, shows them holding hands but with a handkerchief between their hands. He was devoted to her and I think it went both ways. When cancer ended my Grandpa John's life, Great Alice never showed emotion. I never saw tears. Yet I knew she missed him. She once told us that when she got too lonely she would go walk around her property until she felt better.
I hadn't revisited memories of my Great Alice until I wrote about porches and wicker furniture. While I'd love one more conversation with Great Alice, and with many others gone to be with the Lord, I am relieved she is not here. Same feeling for my parents and a list of loved ones. They are gloriously absent from experience today's news of terrorism, political shenanigans, and other tough news. I'm not sure there is any wicker furniture in heaven but I am sure the accommodations are too perfect for my imagination.