by Janine Pettit
22 Feb 2017
Shall we gather at the river?
Where bright angel feet have trod
With its crystal tide forever
Flowing by the throne of God
Robert Lowry, 1864
The subtle influence of grandmothers is a topic for poets and psychologists alike. It can supply strength when you think you have none. It can also carry a loving imprint that tells you who you are no matter what the world seems to be telling you. More often than not, this benevolence comes in the form of an unconditional love. It’s conveyed by the mere “doing” of grandmotherly things. The ironing of a special dress, the unasked for purchase of the item you’ve been eyeing, the cookies on the porch when you most need a friend. Grandmothers have a way of filling the gap. It’s what makes us still miss them decades after they are gone, still think of them when eating a family recipe perfected by them, and still wish we had one more afternoon to just be with them.
Debra Facer, like so many of us, had such a Grandma. Her life would have seemed ordinary to many but she planted seeds of comfort in Debra. Those seeds would bloom when needed and the fragrance of that bloom would remind her of just how extraordinary her grandmother was. The seeds that Debra’s grandmother Dealia, and also her mother Joann, planted in her would bloom and help her to survive childlessness, widowhood at 37 and an ovarian cancer diagnosis.
Dealia the way Debra remembers her – loving life!