• author
    • Heather Alani

    • May 11, 2014 in Columnists

    My grandmother’s treasure trove

    Grandma lucas 11Today being Mother’s day, I want to honor my grandmother, Gladys Lucas.  She was a woman who throughout the course of her life was a mother to many.  She raised her five children through the days of her youth. In her older years, she raised her granddaughter, Megan, with every ounce if not more of a mother’s undying love.  My own memories dance with reflected warmth as I was blessed to have a period of her life that seemed to be solely mine.

    The way she loved me was purely without condition. This kind of love was something I would learn later in my life was the exception, not the rule. This was my blessing, the love of a second mother.  Within the magic place of our imaginations, we were not limited by anyone else’s reality.  As Grandma’s stories spun to life, I knew no questions were off limits. My grandmother’s treasure trove was a gift of life’s values and lessons. These golden words would one day give my life meaning and direction.

    How grand were her intricately web spun tales!

    As a child I was always fascinated by the beautiful woman in the perfectly dusted frame that sat atop Grandma’s bureau. I needed to know this woman’s story, embrace the tale of her life’s pain.  Grandma shared with me that her sister Mildred had passed away from the anguish of a broken heart. Poor sweet Mildred’s joy at giving birth to her child gave way to the living nightmare of being handed that child’s dead body.  Mildred had shared her heart with her child, so wholly and completely.  The incredible despair was too heavy a burden for the strength Mildred had left in her own heart.

    “Grandma, why would the death of her baby cause your sister to die, too?” I asked curiously.

    Grandma’s face would become serious and she would say, “Well, Heather, this is simply the love of a mother!  When you were forming inside your mother’s womb, well, she  gave to  you a  piece of her own heart. When you are happy she smiles, when you are hurt, she feels your pain. Beating in your chest, is your mother’s heart, it’s there she will always remain.”

    “Grandma! Did your sister die from all of her child’s pain?” I exclaimed, horrified at that thought.

    “Oh, no! Her baby didn’t suffer!” Grandma would say matter-of-factly. “All of her love died when she lost her baby. Mildred gave up because the pain was more than she could bear.  This is what it means to be a mother.  A piece of your heart lives on in your child. You can’t shield yourself from pain. You cannot guard that piece of your heart again.  It is the most sacrificial gift all. One day when you become a mother, I promise, this sacrifice will never be in vain.”

    On this first Mother’s Day since my sweet grandmother passed away, I wanted to share a bit of Grandma’s incredible treasure trove. When I became a mother and the mystery was over, I really understood what Mildred had felt. The pieces of my heart that live in my children often hurt and frighten me to death! There are other times when my shared heart brings me endless measures of unadulterated joy! Grandma was right — it was never, no matter what, not once, in vain. I have never regretted giving those pieces off my heart away.

    The day before Grandma passed, we were able to say, “See you later.” She said, “I wish I could have done more.” With tears in my eyes, I replied, “You loved me!”  I saw her eyes twinkle at me for the grand last time… Ohhh! Yes, Heather Lee, I always loved you so much. That single moment is etched like a beautiful tattoo on my soul. Grandma’s body stopped living, but her heart never stopped beating. There, all around me, I was encompassed in a hug of my grandmother’s love. A piece of her heart she gave away, to each one in the room, that was so packed you couldn’t move. As I caught Grandma’s twinkle, I  realized, her body would perish, but her heart will never die.

    In our hearts, Gladys Lucas will always live on, not just because we will miss her, but simply because our hearts belonged to her all along.

    Happy Mother’s Day to my beautiful angel grandmother, my own heart-giving mother, and to all women who have given a piece of their heart to another!

    grandma lucas 21grandma lucas 4Grandma lucas 9heather at elevenGrandma lucas 32

      • laura gonzales

      • May 11, 2014 at 8:48 am
      • Reply

      That is so beautiful. For a long time she was like a mother to me..she would always keep my mother alive with her stories she kept my mother alive for me..i will never forget her beautiful smile and her wonderful words of wisdom..she was more then an aunt for me and my heart will hurt forever.

        • Heather Alani

        • May 11, 2014 at 5:14 pm
        • Reply

        Laura it is our turn to keep them alive now. We must never forget their wonderful stories, smiles and endless love they gave to us. It was no different for grandma when she told us stories. For those moments that she shared she brought each of her sisters alive again. Don’t be afraid to travel to the happy times, or any times! Happy Mother’s Day Darling!

          • Aster Brotherton

          • January 8, 2019 at 8:43 pm

          It’s amazing the things people find online

    • WOW. Just beautiful. Having lost my mom but three weeks ago I know this feeling well. Thanks for sharing this beautiful piece.

        • Heather Alani

        • May 11, 2014 at 10:38 am
        • Reply

        Hugs:: madge! Happy Mother’s day! <3

    • Wow. Outstanding. For the first time in my whole life you brought Mildred alive made me see her. She was simply a guardian angel to me our whole lives. I can only imagine my own heart would break and kill me the same way if I lost one of the kids. Love the pics! Especially the one of Megan. Good work little sister.

        • Heather Alani

        • May 11, 2014 at 12:44 pm
        • Reply

        I am glad you like it. Mildred was always an important person to me and the stories grandma would tell me about her life, I could listen to endlessly time and again for years.We can never bring back the time, but, the memories take us all right through to the end of our own stories. The question is what do we want to write? What story do want told? At the end of it all, we are an accumulation of our own treasure trove. Happy Mother’s day sister.

    • Yes this is a beautiful story because of the truth, she made many sacrifices to make sure none of her children went without. Her love was endless and it still goes on Even if not in the physical form she now guides us lovingly from above.

        • Heather Alani

        • May 11, 2014 at 6:51 pm
        • Reply

        Yes she did! Love has no expiration date. Happy Mother’s day, Aunty.

      • Maya North

      • May 11, 2014 at 10:34 pm
      • Reply

      You were so blessed to have someone who loved you so. I love that way, too; today, we went out for Mexican food and my granddaughter literally curled into me as if by that she could curl into my love and stay there — and she absolutely could. My heart breaks for Mildred — I know my own mother died of a broken heart over my brother, despite her diagnosis. A mother’s heart has such a capacity, but there’s only so much pain it can stand before it gives out. I feel so blessed never to have reached that point, despite some serious wounds to it. I love you, dearheart. I guarantee you were a blessing to her — a heart’s delight — and wherever she is, she watches over you with love. <3

        • Heather Alani

        • May 12, 2014 at 5:13 am
        • Reply

        Thank you sweet Maya! Those who heart touching words! You are a wonderful mother and grandmother <3 Where you share your heart is all that matters in this life! ::hugs:

      • Heather Alani

      • May 10, 2017 at 5:44 am
      • Reply

      I miss her so much. 🙁

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