"Dreams are illustrations...from the book your soul is writing about you" (--Marsha Norman)
My grandmother Susan came to America as a young girl, full of hopes and dreams for a life in a land where the streets were surely paved with gold. At home, in Scotland, she was an important figure in her village: she had a good education and was a school teacher, in the Montessori method, which brought her a fair bit of respect from her peers. Here in America, she would play with my sisters, brother and me often, when we were small, and she'd pretend to be a character who couldn't do all kinds of things, so that we'd have to teach her. At the time, I didn't realize how much she was teaching us, and how independent she was helping us to be.
In Scotland, her husband Edward and she had read novels about America, populated with cowboys and swashbuckling figures who made it sound romantic and adventurous. The America they came to know was experiencing the Great Depression, and they were immigrants in a new world. Poor Grandpa never did become a cowboy, (what with living on the outskirts of Manhattan and all.) But when I went through lots of papers and photos, some years ago, doing genealogy research, one of Grandma's finest, most prized possessions was the letter from the US Naturalization offices saying that she was now a citizen of the United States of America. Grandma instilled in me a love of all things musical, artistic and elegant. She was one of the strongest influences in my life, and I often wish she was still around. I know a lot about her, far more than I know about my Romanian grandmother's past, but I often wish I could ask her things now, at this time in my own life when I would have appreciated her stories of the past even more.
Here's a beautiful song, "Nursery Rhyme of Innocence and Experience," from Natalie Merchant's beautiful new CD, "Leave Your Sleep:"
(Above is a sketch of Susan, my Grandma McClafferty--)