"My beloved Goldie" I could almost hear her gentle accented voice speaking the words as I read them. Her thick black pen had formed the letters in her distinctive script. She called me her "Golden Girl", her "Goldie". She made me feel treasured, adored and special.
I only saw my granny a handful of times. She lived in South Africa. A world away. Even though my time with her was scattered and brief, the closeness I felt to her was unexpected and unparalleled. She never let our distance stop her from being my gran. She wrote pages and pages of letters. She poured her heart out to me and chatted with me as if we were sitting face to face over a steamy cup of rooibos. She told me stories of living in South Africa under apartheid and post-apartheid. She told me tales about her romances and adventures--all big screen worthy storylines. Every time her letters came in the mail, I'd sit in a corner and pore over them alone at first, and then we'd share them as a family. We'd sit and we'd read them, all entertained by her heartfelt words and her interesting news. She'd call us each out by name in her letters--made us all feel special.
Those few times I was with her, (twice here in America and twice in South Africa) I felt destined for greatness. She spoke life into me. She told me I was "a beauty" and she called me her "irrepressible cork" that couldn't be weighted down by anything. She told me which family members I bore traits of and reminded me that I wasn't alone. She taught me about the fact that blood is thicker than water--even the waters of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans between us. She, along with my mother instilled a love for South Africa in us. An unfamiliar country but the country of our heritage. A country who many people here in America know only for apartheid's cruel stories, AIDs statistics and Mandela's heroism. But a country that is so, so much more. A country that is home: people, faces, communities, hearts, beloved nannies, strong roots, rich history and family. My family.
She was foremost a woman of faith.
"After 83 years I've finally surrendered ALL TO JESUS. I'm throwing out all my memories--some wonderful, some horrid--and living just for the moment. God is at the helm. Finally I've died to I! What a relief to know I am now accountable only to my Lord."
My Granny died two days ago, February 16. She was at my aunt's home in Botswana and died surrounded by those that loved her. She is now with the Lord she surrendered her everything to. She is dancing with Jesus having far greater adventures than she ever could've dreamed for herself.
My heart is full of memories of my Granny and there is only so much that I can say that will relate to you. But, at this time I'm happy with quiet rememberings. I want to close with a passage from a children's book my Gran gave us as kids. "Dear Mili" the book is called.
"I'm sure you have gone walking in the woods or in green meadows and passed a clear flowing brook. And you've tossed a flower into the brook, a red one, a blue one, or a snow white one. It drifted away, and you followed it with your eyes as far as you could. And it went quietly away with the little waves, farther and farther, all day long and all night too, by the light of the moon or the stars. It didn't need much light, for it knew the way and didn't get lost. When it had traveled for three days without stopping to rest, another flower came along on another brook. A child, like you, but far far away from here, had tossed it into a brook. at the same time. The two flowers kissed, and went their way together and stayed together until they both sank to the bottom. You have also seen a little bird flying away over the mountain in the evening. Perhaps you thought it was going to bed; not at all, another little bird was flying over the mountains, and when all was dark on the earth the two of them met in the last ray of sunshine. The sun shone bright on their feathers, and as they flew back and forth in the light they told each other many things that we on earth below could not hear. You see, the brooks and the flowers and the birds come together, but people do not; great mountains and rivers, forests and meadows, cities and villages lie in between, they have their set places and cannot be moved, and humans cannot fly. But one human heart goes out to another, undeterred by what lies between. Thus does my heart go out to you and though eyes have not seen you yet, my heart loves you and thinks it is sitting beside you."
"Anyways my lovely one, I wish you could fly in and play casino with me and I also do love scrabble.... Lovingly, Gran"