Thinking about it now, I can hardly remember that bag of crumbs.
I recalled glimpses of emptiness and impatient little hands greedily feeling the weight of the bag as it slowly filled up. These thoughts are so out of place that it forces me to a standstill as confusion turns to frustration. Where have I seen this before and why does it feel so familiar?
Then I hear a voice, a smell, a taste, a kaleidoscope of images later and I am surrounded by a memory.
She smiles as she takes my hand. Happily, we walk into the garden where the sun stings my skin and I have to squint, but I don’t mind, she is leading me. She holds the bag of gold out towards me and I dig my little fingers into the crumbs, feeling their coarse texture, feeling excitement building. I take as much as my hands can hold and listen intently to the crumbs crushing. With one big whoosh they fly across the sky and like rain drops on a sink roof they bounce upon contact with the earth. It’s the most beautiful sight. This action is continued over and over again, sometimes with a giggle, sometimes with a spin on my tippy toes. I laugh and dance, I am feeding the birds.
Thinking about it now, it hardly seems that entertaining.
Crumbs has become so mundane, an irritation that attracts ants. It’s hardly a beautiful sight to these adult eyes. I can’t recall the last time I danced purely because I was so excited to move. I can’t remember the last time I held her hand. The magic of the memory is quickly lost. In a factual functional world, there’s little space and time for dreamers. Or is there?
I’ve grown accustomed to the life without her smiles. I have forgotten about the little pieces of magic she possessed. How a grandma can change the perspective of a child, is a miracle in itself. Every moment was filled with aromas, watching her cook or helping her wash up the dishes. Every nook and cranny of the house was a secret passage, a castle, a fortress of imagination. The garden was foreign countries, mountains that needed exploring, our camp site and our fairytale.
She would many a times be the heroin of my playful youth, the protector of my dreams and provider to hungry soul and of course a hungry tummy. As I divulged into a world of dwarfs and dragons, she would prepare a scrumptious meal and as the sweet aroma filled the air and all the princes and princesses would gather in the kitchen eagerly awaiting a plate of sustenance. Then came the wait for the afternoon nap, for each one of the children knew that grandma kept hidden in the kitchen cupboard sweets of every size and colours and cookies hand baked to perfection. The sweet tooth could indulge in here forever.
Thinking about it now, this house represents indulgence.
In her house you could roam free; we would play everywhere and anywhere. She would arrange witch hunts for Easter and Santa for Christmas. The shelves were filled with videos of our favourite cartoons providing hours of singing and laughing. Then the coup de grace, the room where laughter accumulated, where the adventures would begin was located in the centre of the house. Here she would sow together the most colourful costumes, making my mind fly as I become the fairy princess. Where two wooden doors would open up revealing a cupboard filled to the brim with old and new toys, some come with stories of her childhood, some would encapsulate the memory of mine. A toy for every mood and a tool for every craft were housed here.
Children would gather round the tape recorder and have hours of fun recording and replaying our own version of Red Riding Hood. We’d strategise for hours how we would win Granddad in chess. We’d take care of babies and Barbies and paint and draw and cross stitch. As we created art, we created ourselves.
Thinking about it now, it is the crumbs of these memories that inspire me daily.
This bag of gold holds experiences so priceless. The crumbs crushed in my thoughts become wisdom and escape. These crumbs are not mundane and they are beautiful as they dance through my mind. I have come such a long way. It surges through my veins, magnifying a bond that has been forged over years. I recall all the little things I hold dear, I feel a longing and then emptiness as I realise how much things has changed.
All the princess and princesses have become kings and queens of their own kingdoms. Foreign countries became new homes and the imagination was given a back seat as the pay check took the lead. We speak not of fairies any more, but of fairytale weddings. We don’t record our stories anymore, for the wolf is no longer scary.
So too has she grown older. We said farewell to the castle she roamed. We gathered once more to fill the rooms with laughter, to cook and bake together, to create one last solid memory. We stood in the garden and spoke of games played, battles won and lost. We sat round the piano and remembered warm Christmas nights. We looked at each other and realised, that each of us still harbours our prince, our princess and that she was still the magic that brought it to life. Then we said goodbye.
Thinking about it now, it was a pivotal point in my life.
It was an opportunity to catch up but also a time to realise how much has changed. We have given away the chest of toys; we have donated the books and packed up the photos. We laughed at old times, trying to ignore the new beginning. As much as things were changing, I wished it could always stay the same.
In this moment it dawns on me, how privileged we have been. Though times have changed and surroundings have changed, she is still the same. She has made me realise, that of all the great moments in my life, these little ones are the colours I have painted my life with. It is these small joys that have given me dimension and positive energy to draw from.
I see that like Hansel and Gretel followed a trail of crumbs, hoping to find a home, that in actual fact, she has left me a trail of stones, gleaming in the light of her love, that I can trace back through my youth and back again to a place I can feel safe.
I laugh and dance, I am feeding my soul. Bread crumbs for the birds and crumbs of memories for me. Life can be so simplistic in its design, when the weave of youth is precious love.
Thinking about it now, I am blessed to still have time.
I have left behind many homes, we saw loved ones come and go and we said our final farewells to others. We grew up without anyone noticing, until one day when you see the routes you drive are different, you are driving them yourself. You can’t recall the last conversation or meeting and you realise, the bag of crumbs is dangerously empty. So we reach out, we go back, we reminisce about times long gone. Sentences starting with “remember when...” and “when you were younger...” and the memories will fill the air. While we talk I see before me another being made. The wonder is it never ceases to create. I breathe it in and feel as it becomes part of me. We think of the good old times, yet we are spoiled with the current times.
Time has come for me to depart. I take her hand and walk with her into the sunlight, its warm rays caresses our faces, she has to squint, but she doesn’t mind. I am leading her.