my grandmother was probably my first best friend. hers was the second phone number i learned, after my own, and i loved to call her and discuss the merits of sesame street. besides spoiling me completely rotten, what i remember most about my grandmother was long conversations about whatever suited our fancy. when i spent the night my grandaddy was relegated to the guest bedroom, and she and i would stay up late trading words in the dark, in the same house that my father had nearly burned down as a teenager. (he wasn't kidding about coming home shooting and yelling.) my grandmother died in 1994, when i was twelve, and the loss seems somehow magnified with each passing year. how i would love to dial 236-6182 and hear her voice on the other end! i want to have the luxury of knowing her as a person, not just as my grandmother. i have a few things that help me out in this department, and one of my favorites is this, her box of rembrandt pastels, which i never knew existed until after her death. (and i am thankful to m.d. for noticing them and bringing them home when we cleaned out her house.)
the box is wooden and stained and clearly BEAUTIFUL. there's even a little dutchman sitting in the corner holding a pastel the size of his body. why don't pastels come in such snazzy packaging these days? even more lovely than the outside, though, is the inside:
there are rows of dusty pastels, tattered wrappers and broken bits, well worn by time and use. when i was little i knew my grandmother liked to draw, but it wasn't until she was gone that i came to understand that it was more than just a hobby. she studied and read and practiced and filled notebooks with directives, and now that i'm older, now that i know how dear drawing is to my own heart, it is comforting to think that there is yet another thread of kinship stringing us together. she and i, you see, we would still be best friends. i leave you with my favorite photo of muriel, in happy days.