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Requiem For A Guiding Light
The Grandmother of all Grandmothers
My grandmother used to tell me, when I was old enough to remember, that after a sudden tropical summer downpour, the steam that would emanate from the parched and hot ground are actually the souls of the long departed that didn't quite make it to either heaven or hell. Purgatory on earth. In my malleable mind I thought that she made sense for the simple reason that geographically, heaven is above the earth, hell is below and purgatory should be in the middle, where earth was. She told me a lot of other magical things as well, but what stuck in my mind was the intensity with which she would relate all these stories about the natural world that made it more phantasmogorical than it actually was.
Talking about the phantasmogorical in association with my grandmother may not sit very well with her, for despite those stories, she clearly had a very down-to-earth expectations of what life is all about. She strongly believed in the divine and the spiritual, but belief that was nonetheless tinged by the realization that earthly existence is in most parts defined by the physical and the material. In so far as the spiritual goes, she probably had this idea that it can wait, until it is staring at her right in the eye. Meanwhile the cares and demands of the non-ethereal world needed to be dealt with as they came, one after the other.
There never was a touch of impracticality on how she managed her affairs, including her consenting to the marriage of her fifth daughter(my mother) to a man 25 years older. My mother was not too keen at marrrying someone that much older than her, but my father pursued her from the very first time they met. I suppose, if love did not factor too heavily on the equation, my grandmother nodding to it was the balance tilter. I could attest that the marriage was a success, and for that my grandmother should gladly get some credit.
She lived long enough for me to really know her well. I used to think that I was her favorite grandchild ( she had if I am not mistaken 125 altogether), for when it was time for her to go somewhere, she would ask my mother if she could bring me along. Even as a child I could feel her warmth and her joy at having me by her side, and when she died in her sleep, and I was told of her death months later, I realized how much I missed her because the distance did not allow me to grow up into adulthood in her presence.
From her heavenly space, her gaze will be drawn towards me because she knows, as she knew then, that I considered her to be my guiding light.