This post, published in 2010, is like going home for me. My parents still live in the home that Grandpa built, where Dad was born, where we grew up.
How very lucky we are.
Grandma came to our house on Christmas Eve. The house her husband had built, where they had raised their family. Her son, Sonny to her, dad to me, had picked her up at the nursing home where she now lived. She always recognized her only son, and was happy to be with him.
She came through the door and had no idea where she was. The people around her were familiar, or were they? Another farm seemed a stronger image in her brain that night. Mama, the warm kitchen, the cold night. Everyone is friendly, welcoming her. They are happy to take her coat, find a chair, help to remove snowy boots.
She walked through the kitchen as directed, stopping as she noticed the familiar foods of Norwegian Christmas Eve: Lutefisk, lefse, flatbread, American cranberries substituted for the lingonberries of Norway.
When she stepped into the dining room, she noticed her old table and the lights switched on in her brain. Pure happiness flooded her bewildered face as recognition dawned. "Why this is my house!" she exclaimed, "This is where I lived! This is Sonny's house now." She looked around. "And it looks so clean and so nice. The table (in the house since it was built, familiar and loved) is so nice. I thought this place would go to wreck and ruin with all those kids!"
And there it was, whatever it may be. Honesty born of dementia? My grandmother was well into her final illness on that Christmas Eve. As a frail old woman, she seemed to have accidently spoken her mind to us for the first time. There were too many children. I can still remember the electric shock that shot through me as she spoke those words.
She continued talking and looking at me, completely forgetting that I was one of the too many. "Poor Sonny, it was too much."
The words were barely uttered before the laughter began. Grandma smiled and nodded without really getting the joke. No word spoken by this woman would shake her too many grandchildren. We keep accounts in The Nice Bank.
The Nice Bank is where all the good deeds and kind words that grace our daily lives are deposited. When we hurt someone that we love, we withdraw from the Nice Bank and expect forgiveness. And forgiveness is granted, eventually. Everyone has an account in the Nice Bank and tries to be good, cooperative, helpful to increase the account balance. We make withdrawals when we need to. No one kept close track of accounts, but we knew when a deposit was necessary. It is part of being a family, part of every enduring friendship. We can acknowledge our imperfections while striving to overcome them. If you trust a person would never deliberately hurt you, then forgiveness can be granted and reciprocated.
It's The Nice Bank that keeps us together.
The Nice Bank allowed the jokes to begin as soon as Grandma left for the nursing home and though this happened many years ago, the laughs have not stopped. We never really had to forgive Grandma. Her account in the Nice Bank was overflowing. She had filled us with love while she was able. Because of that, I know this: Love is what people need. Include kindness, respect, understanding with it. The more we receive, the better we are able to pass it on. Love through hurt, through the generations, through disease and disappointments. It allows forgiveness to happen and happiness to endure.
Make generous deposits in the Nice Bank every chance you get. That way, there will be plenty in your account for treasured memories.
As imperfect as we are, The Nice Bank provides true wealth in GriggsDakota