10 December 1986
A long time ago my grandmother came to live with us. At the time I was young enough that the event has now blended into the cacophony of my past, and then she was to me but a name and a title.
She soon became more.
To a young boy in the midst of discovery, of the world around him and the person inside him, she was wisdom, the wisdom of experience. To a young man eager to challenge the world she was patience, the patience of age. To an awkward adolescent, full of doubt, about himself and about society, she was comfort, the comfort of familiarity.
To me she was love.
Since that time I have grown up, as children will do when no one is looking. I went away to school, and returned, and left for good, to make my way alone in the “real world”, and in that process new places and new responsibilities have replaced “home” and “family” in the forefront of my thoughts. That is, perhaps, the cruelest part of adulthood.
We are all here to honor Mary Bragg with our memories. She was my teacher. She was my friend. No story or recollection could ever adequately express that; I won’t try.
Mary Bragg was also my grandmother.
To the mature, rational adult I strive to be, that is short and simple: mother of my mother; one quarter of my heritage. It is an idea, a connectivity, not to be mourned because it still lives within me.
But every child knows there is more. There is magic.
When I was seven and clean shaven I first flew in an airplane, a wholly miserable and taxing trip if my mother is to be believed, though the little I remember of it does not reflect that. The destination was grandmother’s house, that mythical, magical place of song and story, and it was magical to seven-year-old eyes, enough so that the magic has stayed with me though the memories are all but gone.
I’ve ever since associated airplane trips with grandmother.
If you think that’s a strange connection, between a child of the nineteenth century and a marvel of the twentieth, I agree. Yet I have now flown in many airplanes, to and from many places, for many reasons, on many wholly miserable and taxing trips, and with each flight the grandmother magic touched me and soothed me, though my grandmother was faraway. Now my grandmother is dead, but the magic will stay, I know, because she placed it within me.
Such are the vestiges of childhood we all drag with us, despite our best efforts at maturity. I’m grateful to my nature, and to my grandmother, for that.
© Copyright 1986, 2005, Augustus P. Lowell