A Glimpse of REAL Love

Today marks two years since my grandmother passed. Seems like just yesterday. It’s amazing how fast time flies when life gets busy. I wish I could go back in time and just sit with her awhile. There’s so much I never got around to saying, and there’s so much she never got a chance to listen to.

Even as a little girl, my grandma was my hero.  She always had a smile on her face, whether times were good or, uhm, not so good. But it was her eyes… Her eyes were a clear window right down to the innermost parts of her soul. I could read her. Complete novels hid behind those eyes. Stories of struggle, fear, doubt, and worry; but I never heard her once complain. My Grandma was a WARRIOR. She was the super glue that held my crazy family together.

My grandma was the model Christian. Church on Sundays, worked at the ORU Prayer Tower during the weekdays, and CBN at night. But there was just something different about Grandma’s “Christian”.  I didn’t know what it was as a child, but I know now. My grandma knew how to LOVE. I mean, lay the judgement down, look at the heart, and put-yourself-in-their-place kind of love.

There’s so many wonderful memories I have of this woman. Christmas Eve parties complete with bar-b-que dinners, Dirty Santa games, and what felt like a hundred children running through the tiny, yet just big enough, house. Saturday morning trips to the Swap-N-Shop flea market, and her prayer meetings. You can’t forget her prayer meetings. But the one memory that I love her for most, comes in the form of a bicycle.

My mom always prided herself in making me the daintiest little thing around. Home sewn dresses and bows to match, I was her “Darling Daughter, Darla”. After all, she had three boys prior to me. She was ready for her girl, and she was going to do it right!

It wasn’t just my clothes, however. It was pretty much everything I owned. Dolls, barbies, you know…”girl toys”. My bikes would always be the pink and purple banana seat bikes with tassels in the handlebars and flowery butterfly stickers. Oh, and of course, a basket. Gotta have a basket!

I put on a smile and said thank you, and tried really hard to be the girl mom wanted me to be. But inside, what I REALLY  wanted was my brother’s black and gold BMX bike with the black grips that kinda wrapped around your hands, and the really awesome pads that wrapped around the bars. It was really cool!!! I rode it when nobody was looking…

One day, I was playing in the yard when my grandma’s cream colored Buick boat appeared in my driveway. I ran up to her for my usual greeting hug, and she told me she had something in her trunk for me.

“For ME? In the TRUNK???” I knew if it was in the trunk it had to be big. I ran to the back of the car and waited for what seemed like an eternity. She said she had found it at a garage sale for 20 bucks. I’m sure my eyes were as big as baseballs as the trunk opened.

And there it was. An all-chrome BMX bike. Knobby tires; black and white grips. Raised seat (Not a banana seat!!!). The pedals were black metal instead of white plastic. There were no pads. It was a little more than gently used, but it was MINE. And there was nothing more beautiful to me.

It wasn’t the bike that was the biggest gift, though. It was the fact that my grandma saw me for ME…for who I WAS instead of who everyone wanted me to be. That would be the gift that drew me closer to my grandma than any other gift she could have possibly given me that day.

Fast forward about 27 years. I had just left my husband for a woman. My family, who always preached God’s unconditional love, had shut me off. My brothers didn’t speak to me. My nieces weren’t allowed at my home. My business was broke into by a family member, and other family members talked about me behind my back. The church I went to told me to “grow up and stop being so selfish.” I was homeless. I was cold. That winter was emotionally and physically brutal.

Until one night, when my cell phone rang.

“Darla? This is Grandma”… I could hardly talk, so she did the talking. “I don’t really know what you’re going through, honey, but I want you to know that I love you. I’m here for you. I don’t understand those feelings you have, but if you ever want to talk, I bought a book on it.”

A huge smile crossed my face.

She bought a book on it. My grandma had bought a book on it. She did that for me. My heart smiled, and I was laughing so hard inside.  She bought a BOOK on it!!! She didn’t understand me, so she was looking for a way. That’s all I needed. Someone just willing to listen, and to love me, and to “buy a book on it.”

I never saw that book.

I didn’t need to.

 

 

I love you, Grandma. And I miss you so much….

Love you more…❤️

 

 

 

 

Giving Myself Permission

Sometimes, while digging through my mental mess, I have to dig through piles that were created by no one other than myself.  I can sit here and point fingers all day long and find other people to blame for MY lot in life; but the truth is, I am where I am because I have allowed things in my life that I shouldn’t have. For instance, I have a lot of anger and bitterness in my heart toward my family for the way they have treated me over the years. However, I have never allowed myself to not be around them. I have never given myself permission to remove “me” from that situation. After all, they are my family.  I’m supposed to love them no matter what, right? I mean, that’s what I want from them. I want them to love me no matter what.

It wasn’t until just recently I realized that it’s okay to love them from a distance. Sure, I would love to have the picture-perfect family. But that is not who we are. And you know what? That’s okay.

Family gatherings have always been very stressful for me. Who is going to say what about my hair? My clothes? Or, even better yet… What group of people are they going to bash this time? Will my brother be there? Will he speak to me? It has constantly kept my mind in a sort of fearful prison. But they aren’t the ones holding the key to my freedom. I am.

This Easter, I finally said no to the mind trap, and yes to me. For the first time in forty-one years, I spent a holiday away from my family.

And you know what?

Nobody died.

Sure, my mom was upset. There were a few words formed as darts, and there were a few times I started to reconsider. But I didn’t. I knew that I needed to do this for me. I knew, in my heart, that it wasn’t about not wanting to be with them. It wasn’t about THEM at all. It was about ME… giving myself permission to not be around the oppression. It was about ME, removing myself from situations that are continuously piling bricks upon the shoulders of my soul.  I just can’t do it anymore. It was about ME… loving myself enough to say, “ENOUGH is ENOUGH.

There’s so much stuff in my life I cannot control. I have to give myself permission to control the stuff I can. Fear? Oppression? I don’t need you. Bitterness? Anger? You’re not welcome in my home. The past is the past; what’s done, is done. I can’t change any of it.

But, I can change my tomorrow.

…I give myself permission.

 

 

Love you much…❤️