Walks With Memaw
By: Karli Land
The sun starts to make its way into the western sky, leaving in the clouds behind it the most radiant shades of red and orange. Dark is coming which only motivates me to clear my dinner plate faster knowing that I won’t be excused from the table until I do. After I get the okay from momma, I jump up from my seat and run full force through the house and out of the front door causing the screen door to slam closed behind me. Dad shouts a warning, “don’t slam the door,” but I don’t even look back. I make my way across the driveway and over into the next yard. Outside, my papaw is watering his well-kept rose bushes and manicured lawn. He lifts the water hose my way, pretending that he is going to soak me with it but I know better from the many times we’ve played this game before. I make my way through his yard and up to the house. I sling open the front door and yell inside. “We going today?” I wait to hear the small, sweet voice of the woman who makes my world turn. I know she’s in the kitchen, finishing up the dinner dishes but I don’t dare step inside with my shoes on. “Almost ready,” I hear my memaw call out.
It doesn’t take much to keep a six-year-old girl from Frostproof, Florida entertained. We head down the driveway together and start out on our mile-long walk which consists of walking the streets of our neighborhood, Overocker Circle, four times. I don’t remember the days before our walks started, in my mind it’s just what we’ve always done. I don’t think that it was the walks that I enjoyed but rather the games that were played along the way. We sang nursery rhymes, played I-spy, told stories and talked about our day. Walks around that little country block is where I was first introduced to Baa, Baa Black Sheep, The Three Bears, and Henny Penny. I heard my very first Dr. Seuss and Roald Dahl with sweaty palms and tired feet after a few times around the circle. I listened to made-up stories and configured my very own tall tales. Those moments were without a doubt where I first formed my love of words. I loved every word that came out of her mouth and now wish so much to have the opportunity to hear them all over again. As I memorized the songs and stories that she would teach me, I immediately began teaching them to my little sister. I just knew that she would need to know them one day for her walks with memaw. As our walks got fewer and fewer, we began taking along a notebook full of our little rhymes and I only recently realized its purpose. My memaw was losing her memories. My little sister would never enjoy the long walks and playful songs with our memaw. Alzheimer’s took that opportunity away before she was old enough to even understand what was happening.
I write every day of my life now. Oftentimes I think of my memaw while I do knowing that she would be proud of me following my dreams. I am so grateful for the time that I had with her and the writer that I have become because of that time. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. I keep my own notebook now that I will one day share with my grandchildren as we hurry through our dinner plates, rushing outside to meet for our walks.
Storytelling is important. It keeps our loved ones close long after their passing and is the way precious memories are passed along while we are still around to share them. I have so many sweet memories from my lifetime that I want my children to know of. My desire is for them to see what I saw and feel how I felt. I want them to take the things that I remember about my loved ones and share them with their children. This is why I tell my stories.
Many people knew and loved my grandmother. She was an amazing woman who cared so much for so many people. I lost her too soon. How I wish that she were around to watch my children grow into adults and to guide me on the path of getting them there. And even more than that, I wish that my children knew what life with her was like. I wish that they could sit in the yard under the tree and listen to her as she hummed Amazing Grace. I wish that they could lay their head in her lap during a Sunday morning service at the Church of Christ where she was a faithful member. I wish that they could spend Sunday afternoons waiting in line at Morrison’s Cafeteria discussing which desserts are available.
While they won’t have those experiences like I did, they can still know what it was like to be there.
I encourage every writer I know to share stories. Write them down. They will be very precious to someone someday.