[Thoughts I penned for my daughter about her grandma, my mother, after kneeling in front of my little wood stove, blowing through the open vent slots praying the dying red embers might spark back to life, the ash and smoke swirling with each puff of oxygen.]
I have a clear image of God blowing the breath of life into Adam’s nostrils, Eve’s too, surely. I know Master Creator, Maker of all things merely spoke life into the other animals that preceded the apex of his creation, but in my mind’s eye I can see what breathing life into those mammals might have looked like.
Your G-ma Bobbie is one with such fire and grit, such determination and will to live (maybe spurred on by her dad’s charming prophecies of sure failure—and her steeled ire to prove him wrong) that she thinks nothing about wading up to her waist in a mud bog (or worse) to rescue a wayward beast or salvage a flooded garden or field. I’ve seen her flat on her belly in muck, mouth-to mouth with any creature that failed to draw breath, plugging its nostrils or snout, giving it a blow or reaching into its bowels to retrieve the unborn.
She races toward danger, my mother, staring down predators, pulling victims from burning vehicles, and from every kind of storm or carnage–physical or spiritual, seen and unseen. She’s nursed turkey eggs and rescued orphaned children and any living creature in between. While she’s at it, she may as well potty train, instill good table manners, a little respect, and the salvation prayer for good measure. For my mother there is a season for everything under heaven and when that season comes, she is all in until the job is done. She births and butchers with a nod first to the sacred, and then to what is necessary. And at day’s end, she kneels, clasps her hands and prays her thanks.
She does not have time for second-guessing or doubt. That comes later, a good bit after she’s already begun. A moment will come, of sheer panic, but by then Mama’s too far in not to finish.
How did I miss the finish gene? Maybe its that I didn’t have parents whom I had to prove wrong. They said I could do anything and sent me off with their blessing and eager anticipation–even though I knew I could never measure up to my mother.
I was a whimpy kid. Yet, I come packaged with an unstoppable work ethic. Why do I invest so much of myself in whatever it is I do? My mother. Fortunately, my dear, you inherited her grit too.
She is magic, my mother, your G-ma.
I didn’t inherit her inner strength (my core is more often that of a deflated inner tube with odd shaped bulges here and there), but she is in us still. I see her in you. I am inspired by you both. And that is why I sit back on my heels with a smug grin and black soot on my face. I’m a bit light headed, but the fire is now crackling and orange flames dance.