Grandma’s forgiving love

My grandma has always been the glue that has stitched our family together. She is that tall tree whose roots are so sturdy they cannot be cut down. She is the reason we want to visit home during the holiday season. She is a reminder that though we no longer have our parents, God had purposefully placed her in our lives for such a time as this. It could be her contagious laughter that changes any atmosphere or her mischievous gaze that lets you know she has been around the world for some time. Her hugs let you know that she is in love with you, and her cooking, though not the best conveys a sense of home. My relationship with Grandma was rocky for a long time. We could not see eye to eye on certain things. I blame it on our similar traits of hot temper and stubbornness. After my grandfather passed away when I graduated high school and turned nineteen, things took an even darker turn. He had left a business with no will, and per tradition, the oldest of the siblings inherited the responsibility. My mother, at the time, could not care less, so the weight fell on my shoulders. The business was in so much debt, which made it difficult to revive for an inexperienced high school graduate. After several attempts to save the business, it continued to drown in debt. I had borrowed some money from several people with a promise of reasonable interest, but I could not pay it back. Needless to say, we had to close the business. The people I owed money to were banging down our throats, leaving my grandmother in shame and embarrassment. A few months after the business had closed, my grandmother and I had a talk in which she requested that I leave home and stay with my mother for a while. I took this demand to heart as a form of abandonment and rejection. I obliged her wish, but I could not erase the brokenness and disappointment in her gaze. Our relationship was bad, but it had taken a crack for the worst. It was difficult to forgive myself. Years had passed, and I had not set foot at home, even for the holidays. I found a job and proceeded to pay off my outstanding debt. I did not dare to return home and face her. The wound of not being able to forgive had caused a deep rift between my family and me. I lived in isolation, away from them, as a way of self-punishment. I would later lose my mom to AIDS, but even that would not repair our relationship. It had been years since my mom's passing, and my siblings and I kept in touch. I would ask about her well-being but end there. One random day, I received a call from Go-go (translation: grandma). She proceeded with the greetings, and I replied with a sceptical tone, "I'm okay." I can't describe to you how surprised I was by our next conversation. “Sneh, why have you not home?” I thought to myself, has old age taken her memory hostage? “Are you still angry with me?” Nope, she still remembers. “Don't you know how much we have missed you at home?” The shock had silenced my tongue. She continued to express her concern for me and her desire to see me before she dies. Bear in mind, this was just the old people's way of quilting you, not a declaration of a terminal illness. While she talked, a stream of tears came pouring down my cheeks. I felt a lump that had suffocated me for years releasing. It was the first time I let go of the guilt I carried for so many years. I realized that I had imprisoned myself in this self-imposed cell, and only I had access to this key. You know that infamous saying that being unforgiving is like someone taking poison and hoping someone should die. I had been poisoning my soul with bitterness and hatred. My grandma opened the door to healing. I decided that the next step would be to return home. Little did I know, that a lockdown would be implemented. Because of the pandemic, I realized that the anger I carried would amount to nothing. All of a sudden, the senile remark about her dying could become true. During the months of lockdown,I fell into a deep state of depression. By grace, the lockdown restrictions had been eased, and I returned to work. After many months, my finances settled, and in August 2022, I went back home. When I arrived, there she was, my old lady, seated outside her muddy kitchen hut. Her body was frail and wrinkled but still beautiful. Her left eye was near blindness. “Who are you?” I blamed her eyes that had given up on her sight. “Again, she asked, "Who are you?" I replied, "Go-go, it is me, Sneh." She could not contain her joy and hastily cupped me in her arms, joking about my weight gain as if we were old, lost friends. It was foolish of me to think that love, coupled with wisdom, could not forgive a multitude of mistakes. After a couple of days at home and we became friends. She would, like all seniors, question my marital status and my capacity to conceive great-grandchildren. I still wonder if I deserve her, but I believe God had placed her in my life intentionally for such a time as this.

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