The sound of the back door slamming brought me out of the daydream that I was in.
“Lindsey, how many times do you need to be told not to slam the door?” I asked, looking at my eight years old daughter.
Lindsey’s ringlets of dark brown hair and deep green eyes reminded me of my mother. A smile spread across my face as Lindsey gave me one of her “I really am sorry” expressions. It’s the same expression my mother would give me when she had done or said something that would hurt me.
Packing my mother’s house was the hardest thing I had to do, the last good-bye. So final. Somehow, my husband’s death was slightly easier than watching my mother’s coffin being lowered into the cold dark ground. I placed the last of the dishes into the labeled box. I turned to Lindsey who just stood there watching my every move, afraid of saying something that would cause the tears to trickle down my face again. I wished that I could convince her that it wasn’t her that made me sad.
At the age of eight, Lindsey understood that death meant your loved ones would never come back from where ever they went. She couldn’t grasp the reality of the finality of death. I knew in time her Grandmother’s images would fade from her mind. In a small way, I was grateful
for that ability in a child. Knowing that time does heal wounds.
Looking around the kitchen, there wasn’t much left to pack.
“Why don’t we go into the family room and see what we can pack there?” I suggested. I reached for her small hand. She took it with a smile on her shining face. My heart skipped a beat as I realized that my mother would always live through Lindsey. I stopped in the middle of the room and took the last look at the bookshelves that covered three of the four walls. Mom believed very strongly in reading. I can still hear her telling me how TV would rot my mind and books would help my brain to grow. I wondered how many times Lindsey had heard the same thing from me.
Movements from the corner forced me to turn to the corner of the room where Lindsey was standing.
“Mom, isn’t this the same puzzle grandma was working on two months ago?” Lindsey asked as she sat down in one of the two chairs which surrounded a worn out card table.
“Yes, it is. Guess we hadn’t visited grandma as much as I thought.” I replied as I took the other seat and picked up a puzzle piece. In front of us was a picture of a cabin deep in the woods with snow covering the ground.The same puzzle mom and Lindsey picked out together. The one they both had loved.
“Mom, why did grandma always have a puzzle started?” my daughter asked as she also picked up a puzzle piece and placed it in the right place.
“Honey, I guess the reason grandma always had a puzzle going was for us.” I stated as Lindsey and I continued to work on mom’s puzzle.
“For us?” Lindsey asked with an expression of confusion on her beautiful face.
“Yes honey for us. See, grandma wouldn’t work on a puzzle herself. She would wait until someone came along and sat down. Then she would come and sit down in the other chair. Then she’d talk and teach each of us.” I said as I watched Lindsey’s eyes grow large with interest of hearing about her grandmother.
“What did she teach you, mom?” she asked softly.
“Well now let’s see. When I was around your age, grandpa had died. Mom taught me about heaven and that Grandpa was now an angel and is watching over me. We had talks about my first school dance and my first date with a boy. We planned your father’s and my wedding while doing a puzzle. When I found out that I was going to have you, we talked about how we thought you would grow up to be a beautiful person. And you did. It was her way of bonding the family together. We also had the chance to learn who grandma really was.” I responded as memories flooded my thoughts.
“Oh, you mean this puzzle was like grandma giving us a piece of herself to hold on to.” Lindsey stated as she continued to work on the puzzle.
“That’s right. I remember your grandpa would get so angry with grandma because there was always a puzzle in the works. Every time grandpa thought no one was watching, he would walk by and put a piece of the puzzle together. Of course, we never let grandpa know he was caught.” I said with a grin as the warm memories invaded my hurting heart.
“Yea, grandpa would only deny he did anything in the first place.” Lindsey stated as a matter of fact. She knew her grandparents. It was a shame that they wouldn’t see Lindsey grow into a beautiful young woman. Silently, we worked on the puzzle until there was only one piece of the puzzle left. Lindsey picked it up and handed it to me. She grinned as I slipped the last piece into place.
“I knew that you’d find where that piece went!” She said as she laughed.
“How about if we take the table and chairs to our house. We could set it up in our family room. Maybe you could pack up some of grandma’s puzzles for us to do together?” I asked as I stood up and stared into Lindsey’s green eyes.
For a moment I saw mom smiling back at me.