Today may be a celebration of our country’s independence, but fireworks on this night have always reminded me it’s Granny’s birthday. She would have been 110 today. I said “Good-bye” to her at 95 but the truth is she left me in body only. Every hug, tear and piece of advice she ever gave me is still intact in my memory.
On this date in 1845, Thoreau moved to Walden and wrote the book which would define him. He would remind us that man and nature are inextricably connected, so we must preserve it. The same holds true of the invisible threads which bind us to each other.
As I waved my youngest off to New York yesterday and reminded her to “drink plenty of water,” it was really Granny talking. When I hugged my oldest at the gate en route to look at colleges in California and my tears began to fall, I remembered Granny doing the same when I left her. My children are already navigating that long road that we all have walked— to independence.
We repeat ourselves generation to generation. We do it in different languages, under different skies and in different times but the pattern doesn’t change. We’re born, make the same mistakes our parents did (or invent our own), have children, watch them grow as we age and then we die. Some of us die fighting like those who won our independence. Some of us have no fight at all. Most of us lie somewhere in between.
What all of us have is a teeny, tiny window of time to look out on the garden of Life. “It will only be as beautiful as you make it,” Granny once said, “and it takes work.” Someday, if my children remember me on my 110th birthday, I hope their gardens are as full of color and rich with possibilities as mine is. I learned how to tend it from a woman born in 1900; the same one who also said, “Plant lots of seeds. They won’t all take.” (Helen Hudson is the author of, “Kissing Tomatoes,” a memoir of the years before and after her grandmother’s descent into Alzheimer’s. http://www.helen-hudson.com).