two women who hold my past

Today is my mother's birthday. Today is also her mother's birthday. I guess it's hard for me to close this day without sharing about these two women . . . My grandmother, Bonnie Jones, is one of the most elegant and loving women I've known. Her mother was a teacher, and her father fought in World War II. She grew up in Burlington, Colorado, and walked everywhere they needed to go. When she was a teen, she met my grandfather, a handsome baseball player, who would eventually go to work for the Bureau of Land Management and show her most, if not all of the fifty states. As a child, I always remember her singing to me. "Que sera, sera", "Bicycle Built for Two" and others would be gently intoned as we stood side by side, apron-clad, sifting flour and breaking eggs. And I always remember her hands, soft and cool, letting me run my fingers across her rings.

As an adult, I am aware of how much of her life, how many versions of herself existed before we met. I hunger to know her, even the parts I've missed. Every time she persevered as a young mother with a traveling husband, each moment that she chose love and gentleness when reaching for her daughters, she created my world.

My mother, Sharilyn, always felt like being a mother was what she did best. Like her mother before her, she married her high school sweetheart and began her family at a young age. She often reminisces to me about lying next to my infant body on the sofa, stroking my face and singing "You are My Sunshine". Hours I spent gazing and exploring her hands during Sunday morning sermons. When she polished her nails they were slick and smooth and I would rub them like little river rocks. When I'm in my mother's presence, it's as if I'm returned to a part of myself. She holds in her safe keeping all the moments I've forgotten. All the versions of myself that I may or may not remember. These two women hold my past in hands that have held me, and together we live and love and create worlds for generations to come.

With my mother and grandmother a week after my daughter, Amelia, was born. December 2003