For three weeks I have had lunch with my grandmother. For three weeks she has listened to me ramble on in quotidian details: doctors visits, camping trips, meal planning, the garden. For three weeks she looks at me sideways for awhile before she smiles and laughs and asks if I’m going to have a baby. For three weeks she gets quiet and shuffles around and looks away until she finally asks if I ever got married. For three weeks I’ve told her again about myself and all that has happened to me.
This is the woman who raised me. She loves me, she hugs me. She splits a sandwich with me. She is glad to see me and she knows I belong to her, but she cannot remember who I am.
We are without a church home. This is a new experience for me, but it feels something like my relationship with my grandmother. There are things happening on Sunday mornings: a drive, kind words, sermons, singing, communion, but there is nothing that feels like progress. I am starting over again, as a stranger in a strange land. I am both shaken and still inside, tired of explaining who I am, content to just have a seat, oddly at peace with these things.
I have heard it said that the Church is like our mother and so I think she would be slow to cast us out, but at the same time, mothers cannot always take care of you. Sometimes all you can do is visit every week and sit down in her house, whether she knows you or not.
I want you to talk to me, my mama said the other day, please talk to me until I lose my mind. I smiled and said I would. But I know, if that happens, I will be talking to her still, and I will scrounge in her kitchen and make us a sandwich.
My nieces call her Big Mama, and though she is a little lady, it suits her well. I am lucky to share a garden with her. Sometimes we over-plant each other and sometimes I pull up weeds she liked the look of, but we are in full agreement that the flowers should be given as much elbow-room as the vegetables (sometimes just a little bit more), no matter what the men might say. Here are some pictures from Big Mama’s spring garden from this early morning: