When I was 14, my Grandma came to visit. She lived in rainy Portland, Oregon and we lived in Southern California so we didn’t get to see her very often. When she came to visit it was a big deal.
My grandma liked to write really long handwritten letters to us as kids during the in-between of us seeing one another. There was no internet or FaceTime. Just letters and phone calls. I have shoeboxes full of those letters that I cherish now as an adult. As a kid, it seemed like a lot of fluff and stuff. Things I wasn’t that interested in like the weather or the roses in her garden, but I always enjoyed it when my Grandma would come visit.
She had the kind of laugh that made you want to giggle. It was contagious and her smile was kind and gentle. She had this finger…a portion of it had been amputated earlier in life during a work accident and each time she would come for a stay I would secretly glance down to see if I could catch a glimpse of it. When I would sit next to her, I would feel for the scarred place on her hand. It was smooth and soft and for whatever strange reason something I loved about her.
As I got older, I looked forward to the day I could choose my 12 year old vacation. It was a tradition in our family that once a grandchild turned 12 they got to choose where to go with my Grandma on a trip. Most of my cousins chose Southern California so they could explore Disneyland, but I wanted a trip to Oregon.
Alone on a plane. That was big kid stuff.
When I got there I remember exploring the Rose Gardens and eating at some buffet that she liked. We explored museums and I got to visit my cousins on that trip. On the last evening, we grabbed dinner from her local grocery store deli and I watched a little TV while she tended to all of her roses along the perimeter of her home.
She tended with care and precision.
It was full time work keeping up with those bushes. After finishing my meal, I searched around the house, exploring to see if I could find anything neat and investigating each room. I would find her guitar, her love of teddy bears, and a set of teacups that I liked. While I wasn’t a girlie girl, I did fancy a tea party with my girlfriends from time to time. These cups were beautiful and I remember liking them. The trip ended with normal goodbyes and years passed.
Fast forward two year later, I had just started my Freshman year of high school and I have vivid memories of her visit. Hillary Clinton was running for office that year & I remember my grandma sat on the couch while I loaded the dishwasher watching the election proceedings as she said to me, “Lisa, in your lifetime, you will see a woman become president.”
“Okay Grandma,” I thought to myself.
I didn’t really worry myself with politics at 14 and she seemed to ramble on about political jargon. Looking back I wished I had listened better to what she was trying to tell me. I’ve tried to recall that conversation but all I can grab is “Hillary Clinton & a woman will be president one day…”
Her trip came to a close and I remember asking my Dad if I could go with him to take her to the airport. It was a school night, but he allowed me to. Those were the days you could sit with people at the terminal until they loaded up, so we sat and talked while we waited for her flight to board. She leaned in close to me right before they called her seat section, clasped my hands in hers and smiled like she always did.
Intently this time. Very intentionally making certain I was paying close attention. Guess she caught on I wasn’t listening all that well earlier.
“Lisa, I want you to have my teacups. I trust you with them. I loved them and now you will love them.” Her tone was soft and confident. Her eyes released from the burdens of the day.
Why was I starting to cry? They were just tea cups and I didn’t love them that much. I just liked them.
I remember standing at the gate and my grandma turning around one last time to wave goodbye. And in that instant, she was gone. I knew without a doubt in that moment, it would be the last time I would ever see her. I don’t know why I knew that. But I did. And I believe she did too.
Two weeks later, she passed away. Quietly in her chair. The one I had sat in years earlier, while watching her prune rose bushes on her deck. She was the first person I had ever lost.
Those teacups. They encouraged me in ways that she would never fully understand.
This woman, whom I loved very much had entrusted me with one of her most cherished items. Trust. Such an important thing to earn in any relationship and something people challenged me to believe was even possible in relationships throughout the years.
The teacups. They were more than just a piece of dishware. They were tangible pieces of her trust in me. I love her for leaving that memory of hers, in my hands.
The next time you sit down for tea, sip slowly. Relish the moment. Breathe in the pieces of good in your relationships and be thankful.