"Do you believe in miracles?!" - Al Micheals
In theory, all these posts should be about clothing, and yet, there are certain times when there has been a meal, or party, or some other event or gathering that I know my mother would have loved, that has made it's way into these posts. And today, it is falling leaves, in particular, Ginkgo Leaves.
The Ginkgo tree was my Grandmother's favorite. One year, after I had just moved back to New York City from Portland Oregon, I cooked a Thanksgiving meal for just my grandmother and me in my tiny galley kitchen. My roommate was with her family, and my mother and stepfather were in Florida. My Grandfather had passed away several years earlier, so it was just us two. In her place setting I tucked a sprig of fallen Ginkgo leaves that I had found on the sidewalk. I knew my Grandmother was touched, and that my mother was proud of me for putting this meal together. A young girl in her early twenties, choosing to spend thanksgiving alone with her Grandmother.
My girls will never be able to do that for my mom, but I hope that I am raising them to be sweet, conscientious, and inclusive young women. My mother's relationship with my Grandmother was complicated, (what mother daughter relationship isn't?!) But the nice thing about Grandmothers? All of the love, none of the discipline! I really loved my grandmother, she was an elegant, larger than life woman, with a boisterous laugh, and the ability to talk to ANYONE- (I swear, she tried to set me up with every cute waiter she met!) This week, I had the lovely occasion to go to tea at the Huntington Library, with my mother-in-law, my husband, and my daughters. The last time I had tea there I was with my mother.
After tea, we meandered through the grounds, landed in the Japanese Garden, and stopped to touch the suiseki or viewing stones. Viewing Stones can evoke a variety of responses and most of the stones on display there are considered beautiful because of their unusual shape, color and smoothness. Visitors are encouraged to touch and even rub their hands against the stones to keep them polished. The guide also suggested that you make wishes, "These stones are powerful, and are very good for wishing on." And so I did. I wished on all seven of those stones. I wished for all of the things one would imagine. I thought deeply of my mother. And then I looked down at the ground, and saw the fallen Ginkgo leaves, and thought of my grandmother, and that thanksgiving all those years ago. I do happen to believe in miracles, coincidences, kismet, whatever you want to call it, but that day and those leaves, that was a hello from my grandmother, and I thought "Gram, if your there, mom must be too. She just has to be." And so that's what I will take with me as I head into the Holidays. My mom is not here, but she is all around me.