The last time my grandmother visited me was ten years ago around this time of year. She came to me in a dream.
I was on the back porch of what looked like her home in Missoula. I sat on the steps while she tended to some lilac bushes in her garden. She had a sunhat on and I remember thinking how awful it was to be sad on such a beautiful day.
I moped and she pruned.
Grandma turned to me and asked, “Why don’t you help me? It will get your mind off things. Go work with that bush over there,” and she pointed to a bush in the corner of the yard.
I whined that I didn’t have any shears.
She responded with, “Yes you do. They’re right where you left them.”
I looked down at my feet and there they were. The grass had grown between their handles and the weather had rusted them in spots. I picked them up and walked to the bush. It was ugly and deformed. It seemed the stump or some kind of woody weed had gnarled its way around the bush. It was dark but from it bloomed three stalks.
“Grandma,” I said, “I don’t even know where to begin.”
She came over to take a look.
“Let see here….why don’t you clip the flowers from this one and put them in some water for us to enjoy inside.”
I moped with a lack of motivation. Grandma acknowledged my slump and took off her gardening gloves and set down her shears. She put her arm around my shoulders and squeezed me close to her.
“Let me show you something.”
She led me around to the cypress trees that lined the back edge of her garden, and behind it was a section of her garden I had never seen before, or even knew existed. There were droves of lilac trees in blossom, and the fragrance was overwhelmingly powerful.
Then Grandma told me, “This is what is possible Anna. Prune and tend. Even if it looks terrible, try to find something good to take from it. Bring it inside to enjoy. If you keep it up, by the end of your life, this is what you can have.”
I woke up not remembering that dream. I was a school bus driver at the time for a country route and it was a foggy morning. I made some toast and coffee and headed out into it. I couldn’t see but three feet in front of me, but I knew the roads well and I barreled through at a slow pace. I picked up the kids as they emerged through the fog, standing at the edges of their long driveways.
With the rising sun, the fog began to lift and as it lifted, I saw the road we were driving down was lined with lilac bushes. The sun shone golden on their purple blossoms and their fragrance billowed into the windows of the bus and suddenly, the dream came back to me.
So now when I see lilac bushes in bloom, I remember my grandma. I like to think she’s still near, somewhere just beyond what I can’t see, and somewhat involved with overseeing the beauty of the lilacs in bloom here on earth…
…and Grandma, I have noticed that the lilacs bloom even bigger and more beautiful with every year that passes. Thank you. Kiss-kiss-hug-hug. Jeg elsker deg. Love you.