I can’t believe its taken me this long to realise how you were the one who saved me. I always knew that you were very very special but I didn’t know just how much of a mother you really were to me.
You nurtured me with your warmth and unconditional love and acceptance of me. You made me feel so special; like the most cherished little girl in the world. That’s why every school holiday, I would pack my little suitcase and come and spend my days with you even though you lived down the road from us. You always opened the door with a big smile that was reserved only for me, your favourite grandchild. You had so many grandchildren, but I was special to you! I know that some of the family resented our close bond and felt that their children were not as treasured by you as I was. But I needed that love, it saved me. The universe knew that and sent you to me.
My days at your house were filled with laughter and love. I remember that we both had toothless smiles; mine from the missing milk teeth and yours from the old stubs in your mouth that were never replaced. I remember your double bed that we slept in, and wrapping my little arms around your round body and feeling safe and warm all night. My son does that to me now, I wish that you could have met your great-grandson. He is a beautiful child; affectionate and sensitive, I know you would have treasured him. I remember waking up at night to find you on your prayer mat with hands held out and teary eyes. Your life was hard, married at 13, widowed in your late twenties with all those mouths to feed. You had left all your family behind in another country and you were so brave and strong. I know that the grandfather I never met used to hurt you, I only found that out when you died. You never complained about him and always spoke highly of the man I never met.
Even when you were dying of breast cancer, you were nurturing and feeding people and you kept all your pain hidden deep inside. I miss you and wish that you were still around. I have such an emptiness, such an ache inside which my mother didn’t fill but each time it comes now, I remember you. I remember watching movies with you and laughing till you cried and wiping your beautiful eyes with the corner of your scarf. I remember all the foods you fed me, made so lovingly and so specially for me. You knew exactly what I liked to eat and saved my favourite treats for me.
I remember you teaching me how to cook and I would stand on my stool so that I could reach the table and roll the dough with the little rolling pin you bought me. I remember the smells of your kitchen and your pantry which was like a treasure house for me.
I remember you taking me to your friends’ houses in the afternoon and you were so proud to show me off as your first grandchild. You always praised me for being so well-mannered. Some of your friends had kind eyes and words but others said things about the colour of my skin and the frizziness of my hair. You always defended me and spoke out for me. You loved me just the way God made me.I remember one ridiculous woman saying that you should try lemon juice on my skin to make it lighter. I didn’t have to do anything to make your proud of me. I remember, I remember, I remember. I never want to forget!
I hold onto these moments and many many more. You were the woman who saved me. I know what unconditional love is because of you, I know that love is warm and kind and patient because of you.