I’m starting to hear stories from my father that he’s never shared with me before. Last night we talked on the phone for a long time. I had been worried about him because my mother’s been fairly sick lately and I know that gets him down.
He always has a story for me. And last night was no different.
He began; “I remember when I was home (Waterford, Ireland will always be “home” for him) and I was up at about 9 in the evening and I looked out the window and there was my grandmother outside in the frost with just her stockings on looking up at the moon for herself. I went out to my uncle (My father was orphaned at a young age, he remembers his mother but has no memory of a father) and asked him why grandma was out in the frosty night in just stockinged feet?
He told me I was crazy, “Grandma went to bed at 8PM and has been sleeping ever since.”
“I figured I must have been dreaming and so I went back to bed.” he said.
He continued: “The next morning I awoke and I went and made the tea and toast by the fire which I would bring to grandma every morning. We made toast by the fire then, no toasters at that time, y’know.”
“When I got to the room she was indeed sleeping and I called to her to wake her up but she kept right on. She never woke up. I ran to Mary (his older sister) and my uncle. Come quick! She’s gone! She’s gone!”
Hearing this story, made me think that my Father was a young man maybe in his late teens. So I asked him, “Dad how old were you when this happened.”
“Oh I guess I was about 7 years old.” he said flatly.
My dad is now 84. I’m amazed he can remember the scene with such vitality but then again, finding your grandmother dead in the morning at 7 after seeing a vision of her in the night air isn’t exactly the kind of thing you’d forget.
With the Irish, all of our stories are true and some of them actually happened. However, this is a story that I know is true and indeed it actually happened. It’s now one of the only memories I have of my great-grandmother and I have no personal experience of my grandparents on either side. So I see all this history through the eyes of my parents. My father had to hear stories of his parents from this woman who he found in the “thin place” that night as we Irish say, in the place between death and life, standing up looking at the moon on a cold Irish evening.
I’m often not one for these kinds of stories. But today I am. And I know that when I look to the moon tonight, I may just do so in stockinged feet and remember the woman who raised my father for just a short time, who helped him get over the death of his parents before she died herself. One of his only female role models and who gave my father the spirit of being a man for others, as he has been for me for more than 42 years and for my mother for more than 62 years of marriage.
The moon and my great-grandma will now be forever linked in my mind. We are truly all connected by God to one another. And perhaps when I look and find the moon in the sky I can pray a prayer to God for a woman I have never met, but who moves me to gratitude this day and who probably has prayed for me for decades.
Maybe we’ll even get to sing in the moonlight together.