My grandma was a painter.
She used a brush to remember the excursions my grandaddy would take her on. The canals of Venice. The Isles of Greece. The nearby mountains of their home.
When I would visit, she would show me her latest paintings and what would be next. Her easel and chair sat upstairs facing the window.
She was technically my grandaddy's wife, but after he passed away, I asked her if I could call her "grandma."
We had a connection that I still feel today. A shared gentleness and understanding.
I had a chance to see her weeks before she passed away unexpectedly, and I didn't take it.
My family was taking a vacation to visit her and then drive to the ocean. I surprised them by flying to meet them at the beach. I couldn't stay long enough to visit my grandma though. She was sad about it. My family was sad about it.
I had just started my first job after college and was given a limited amount of vacation time. I was afraid to use too much of it, too soon. I was scared to ask for too much, and I wanted to save enough time to drive home for the holidays.
If I had to list the regrets I've made in my life, this would be in the top 10.
In her mourning of my grandaddy, she had lost her desire to be creative. I was concerned and would ask her about it often.
I still remember the call. We were talking about school, my job, or the weather...it doesn't really matter. Then there was a pause. "I've started painting again. I thought you'd like to hear that."
It still brings tears to my eyes.
After Edna passed away, I tried for years to get one of her paintings from her family. I tried again recently, with no luck. I wanted a piece of her in my home to remember her by.
Recently, I was working on my vision board for the new year. I collected photos of travel, hobbies, a new camera, and a bike. I have wanted a bike again like I had in Austin, TX. I love riding a bike to a coffee shop, the store, the park... I'd love to ride again to the gym in the morning.
Around this time, I visited my aunt's house for dinner. We were eating and talking around the bonfire. Out of nowhere, they asked if I had a bike. They had my grandma's bike in the attic and wanted to give it to me. They thought she'd want me to have it.
My granddaddy had spent a lot of money to get a bike custom to her height and size. He had this vision where they'd ride bikes together around the nearby mountains with paint supplies and fishing lures. And supposedly they did it.
Eventually, Edna became scared to ride her bike on the hills. So they shipped their bikes to my aunt and uncle.
They delivered the bike tonight, and I cried.
It rode perfectly with a basket just like the one on my vision board.
I may not have a painting showing her memories. But now I have something of hers to make my own memories.