I ran down the long staircase, rushing as I lost my breath. She was at the bottom of the stairs waiting for me. Nana had passed 10 years ago, but there she was standing on an oriental rug silently watching me, dressed in a wool coat with her back against the front door. I saw Auntie Mary standing next to her, looking into the room to her left and right. Mary had died a few years before Nana, which broke her heart to pieces. It broke everyone’s heart really. They were now constant companions in their world, just as they were in life. The three of us stared at each other as I caught my breath, standing on the landing. Why were they here?
The house was an old Victorian where I lived with my then husband. It was a magnificent house that showed off the glory of it’s time. Crown molding, hardwood floors and fireplaces anchored the rooms with splendor. I loved the house, but hated the marriage. The growing struggle to keep a meaningless marriage together was exhausting, set against the grand harmony of this structure. I had to get out.
Both Mary and Nana were now totally focused on me. I tried to talk, but words wouldn’t come out. There was an expression of sympathy from Mary, and I slowly nodded my head to signal to her that I was OK. But, I wasn’t OK. There were so many things that I needed to talk to Nana about, to have her save me. She brought comfort to me when she was alive, just by giving me tea or feeding me her incredible butter-slathered Irish Bread. So many times, after she passed, I looked for the nourishment only a grandmother can give. I wanted Nana to talk, but she just smiled at me.
Turning, she opened the door and walked out to the front porch. I could see Mary move into the formal parlor out of the corner of my eye, as I slowly followed Nana outside. It was a cold autumn evening that smelled of maple leaves and frost. I followed in a hypnotic daze, as my shoes crunched on twigs and leaves. She stopped at a bench that I don’t remember ever being on the property, and we sat down.
I put my head in her lap and started to cry. I cried for bad choices that I had made, I cried for getting into a bad marriage, I cried for not being a better mother, I cried for not being the ideal daughter, I cried for global warming for God sakes, I cried for nothing at all, and I cried because I simply missed her. She had been gone much of my adult life. Still silent, she rubbed my back and arm and told me without speaking that she loved me and will always watch over me. I would have loved to hear that sweet Irish brough, but it wasn’t important at the moment. Everything was said.
I haven’t been visited in my dreams by Nana since that night, but she does live in my heart. I think of her often when I need relief, the way she rubbed my back on that bench. I have a wonderful mother, who is an incredible grandmother to my children. She comforts them, and gives them tea when they need it. Her Irish bread is good, just not as good as Nana’s.