As Thanksgiving rolls around in the United States, we have so much to be thankful for. I thought I would share a story today about my grandmother.
I was very blessed to know my grandmother. She lived for 96 years here on the Earth and I had the pleasure of getting to know her from the perspective of a child and an adult. My aunt, her daughter, passed away when I was a child. Occasionally, Granny would load all of the grandchildren up for a trip to the cemetery. She told me that there is no pain greater than losing a child. Her pain was palpable and even as a child, I can remember feeling her grief. As we all grew older, Granny lost her vision so I would drive her out to the cemetery when she asked to go. Each time we would go, we would follow the same procedure, we stood over the headstone, then walked to where the statue of Jesus was and then sat quietly on the bench.
When we were sitting there, my Granny would tell me a story about how devastated she was about the loss of my aunt and how in the early days she could find no consolation. She said she would come to the cemetery and sit on the bench and just cry. One day, she said, she cried out to God to give her a sign that her daughter was ok. Within a minute, she said she began to hear a mockingbird in the tree beside her sing the most beautiful song. She said it sang and sang and sang. Eventually, she had to leave, but the bird kept singing. She took this as her sign that her daughter was fine. She liked to return to the cemetery to be reminded of that wonderful gift.
Several years ago, my Granny passed away. I guess the body can only hold out so long. I was very sad and even though I understood that she was in a better place, I could not help missing her. She was buried in the same cemetery as my aunt and grandfather. The day after the funeral, I went out to the cemetery. It was very quiet and peaceful. As I followed procedure, I stood over her headstone, walked to the statue of Jesus and then sat quietly on the bench. As I sat there crying, a beautiful bird began to sing in the tree beside me, then it was joined by another. Together they sang and sang. I could not help but wonder if this sound was sent by my Granny and my aunt, who were now together. Half laughing, half crying, I sat and listened to the beautiful song of the birds. I had to go and get my children from school, but I hated to leave. What a sweet blessing.
I have returned occasionally to the cemetery but have not seen or heard the birds again. I think they must have been heaven sent.
As Thanksgiving draws near, it can be hard to celebrate when you are missing family members, but even though my Granny will not be at our table, her sweet potatoes and sweet memories will be. It is a great day for us to celebrate our memories and create new ones. May your Thanksgiving be blessed with much joy, laughter and giving of thanks.