“She was so proud of you. That’s what she told me. ‘Sala wrote this play. I’m so proud of her.’ Yes she was. She was very proud.”
Hearing these words was startling. So much so that for the next several nights I woke with a zillion questions. Among them:
Would I have made different choices had I known how she felt? Would those words have encouraged me to work harder, be more focused? Would I have had more faith in myself and continued to write plays?
The first question could have been about how long it took for me to get these words. But it wasn’t. It’s been almost three decades since my Grandmother Hattie’s death. It’s been probably longer since I talked with my cousin in New York. But does it really matter when I received the words? My grandparents — all four of them — would say, “God is on time, all the time.”
Still, when my cousin shared my grandmother’s words about my creative work, I was surprised. My grandparents were solid, God-fearing, Southern folk. It never occurred to me to share my work in the theater with them. And when I heard that this was her response to the first piece I had written and staged, I rejoiced. So what if it was decades later.
“I didn’t always agree with what your father did as a boy and young man,” my Grandfather Julius said about daddy. “But when you see what a child has grown up to be, you feel proud.”
It feels like it’s always been this way in my family. Pride in another’s accomplishments exists but is not always expressed.
I wish I could have heard her words back then. But if I had, would my rocky imperfections have resulted in the dollop of wisdom I see in myself today? “God is on time, all the time,” say my ancestors.
I try to remember this when I have challenging days. Well, this and the fact that words have color, power, and vision.
“He was very proud of you,” a friend told me after my father’s funeral. “He just couldn’t tell you himself.”
These folks’ words bring light to me. Brilliantly healing and erasing an overshadowing need for approval and periods of self-doubt. I sit here snacking on tortilla chips and thinking about meals to come. It’s one of the things I do when the nerves in my hands are ultra sensitive. And I’m hearing my own voice inside saying, “better late than never.”
I am not rueful. I still have words to write.
When I started blogging I had a concept about words. With a reluctant nod to Merriam-Webster, I would choose a single word and match it with a color. It was a brilliant idea, but too much work. Anyone who has tried to express her truth in writing knows that the craft is anchored in the practical. I am faced with the reality of the limitations in matching a galaxy of words to a small palette of colors.
And again, there is the reality of CIDP. Anchored down by my commitment to stay as positive as possible, I stay away from words that dwell on negative emotions. Words have color, power, and vision.
Perhaps this has never felt more true than when I hear words that come from folks whose physical light has gone out.
God is on time, all the time.