My grandmothers house was immaculate and full of treats, but not too many, just always the right amount. The lawn was always mowed and we tore divots playing outdoors on summer afternoons. There were bedrooms for me and my sister and beds made up snug and tight without so much as a wrinkle. She kept us well fed and polite and the carpets were always clean for us to lay and play games on. At my grandmothers house, I felt safe, clean, and at peace.
In the room I stayed was a desk so full of stationary that I thought I won the Hallmark lottery. There were so many different sizes and colors and pens for every occasion and under her watch I drew to my hearts content. I received many letters and cards on that stationary, always assured by her pen that she loved me, heart and soul.
Experiencing peacefulness is a gift from my grandmother and a cornerstone of who I am. In this calamitous world full of uncertainty, one truth I could count on was that my grandmother loved me, heart and soul.
When I would see my grandmother over the last couple years, she always held my hand and recharged our bond. As I travel this world, I find peace imagining I am holding her hand and experiencing it with her. Finding her a postcard or composing little notes or even going somewhere on her behalf. In the Vatican City, standing in Saint Peters Cathedral, it was by thinking of my grandmother that made the experience more valuable. I believed she would appreciate walking those halls and that made me cherish it more. I looked more closely on her behalf and I felt peace.
In the forested hills outside Istanbul stands a modest home where Mary, mother of Jesus, was brought and looked after by one of the disciples of her slain son. Years ago, on a particularly warm autumn afternoon, I found myself with a rare moment alone in the room in which she prayed. In that magical context of history, as one is encouraged to do, I found myself speaking aloud to Mary. Hi Mary, I’m Jay, you probably don’t know me, I live really far away and have been a bit busy lately, but… but what I found myself settling into was a word or two about my grandmother and how it was for her that I made the trip to these hills and this home and that I thought Mary should really hear about her because I love her heart and soul.
I think my grandmother and I have different views on heaven, but I am sure she has found hers and I hope that Mary remembers my visit. As for me, I will continue to travel this world, carrying memories of loved ones with me, carrying her memory with me. I believe the soul is the memory of someone you love. And so I will recall her memory and let it enrich my experiences as it remains with me, her soul, in my heaven.