I remember the way her shoulders shrugged up and down to the tempo of her piano playing. The way she sang, “I’m gonna wash that man right outta my hair” to me when sudsing up my locks after a long day of playing in the river. I remember sitting on her lap while choosing out triangles of scraps to make little quilted pillows in her crafting basement. The way she shuffled cards. Her hair in curlers. Her deep red carpet and her sweet little fenced in backyard. I can remember what she smelled like. I can feel her soft gray hair.
Last year she gave me a large purple crate of patterns and magazines. Its contents are like a scrapbook of every birthday and holiday of my families past. Every photograph has come to life under the tree or beneath colorful birthday wrapping paper at one point or another. She told me when her kids were young she would try to complete a project each week. Some took longer, some she completed in days, so it all evened out. But over the years she learned to do it all.
I feel like her soul is inside me. Sometimes I feel like her soul is inside the purple crate in my closet. But today, it is in me. Her need to create, the way it made her keep going, the gifting process of the whole activity, that was My Nana. Today, she lies in a bed, not long for this world, with family tucked in close by. I wish I could be there, but alas, this new life growing inside me requests I remain here. But she is sleeping, and we can honor her from a distance.
Perhaps I will open up that purple crate today and shuffle through her memories. Our memories. It seems like a fitting thing to do.