I was about four, and there I stood on the chair so I could reach the telephone that was on the wall. This is 1982 and I am talking to Grandma Jackie on an old telephone, ya know, the kind with a circular dial. She says she loves me with all her heart. I look around, what I see the most is carpet, and so I respond, “I love you with all my carpet.” Ever since, that is the phrase used in my family to express our love. And what love there is! Thanks in part to Grandma Jackie. She was the most lovingly expressed person I have ever met and certainly showered me with the most outwardly expressed love I have ever experienced. One moment with her went like this:
“Oh honey, you are so precious. That dear heart of yours. God blessed you sweet pea with such a beautiful heart to love. Never forget how precious you are. I love you so much.”
Me, crying, “Okay, Grandma. I promise, I won’t.”
Her: “Oh honey, those tears are so precious, I want to catch them and keep them forever. Let me see if I can.” She finds an old film canister and holds it up to my cheeks. The tear drips into the container and dissolves. I realize with a tinge of regret that she can’t save my tear. I wish she could because it is filled with my love for her.
That scene happened when I was seven, and I was moving from living across the courtyard from her to Colorado. After that, similar conversations passed between us, but mostly over the phone. She wrote me sweet letters full of expressions of love and blessings from God. She desperately seemed to want to impart to me my preciousness, the value of my heart, my love, my worth.
She finally surrendered to death after years of Alzheimer’s, living in a home, bound mostly to a bed, not knowing who or where she was. Visiting her was a torturous practice for me in letting go, facing death, and grounding in my belief that we are spirits, she was not here, in this body, and fully praying for her release to the beyond. In death, I am closer with her than in life in many ways. Now, she is my angel, my guide. I talk to her, ask her for guidance, I feel her there, next to me sometimes, and love rushes through me, bursting forth in a tsunami of tears. She is not lost to me, that love is there, forevermore.
So, I leave soon to go to Payne Gap, Kentucky. A little place in the middle of the hills where this Saint of Love was born and bred. Uneducated, poor, a hillbilly for sure, her spirit, regardless of the trials of her physical life, endured, indeed flourished, and raised up to bless and teach many who crossed her path, of the blissful bounty of unconditional love. This is a woman who expressed genuine love to everyone. Kindness, instant, no need to earn, or get to know. You, me, all of us, by virtue of being there in front of her, were instant kin, fully worthy of her love, no less than a precious gift of God. And worship God, she did. Vehemently. Beautifully. She spoke in tongues. Waved her hands in praise, singing Alleluia in church pews as my siblings lumped down in embarrassment and I joined in with complete awe and rapture of her embodied devotion of the Divine. She is where my love of God was watered and nurtured. She showed me the glory of knowing myself as Spirit. Of knowing that a higher power was running the show and in that I could trust. But most of all, she showed me the beauty of walking this path as that divine love, extending it forth through me, to others, being used up as a vehicle for its love. Oh, to be taken over by that rapture. To walk as a Christian, not as a religiously righteous person reciting scripture and converting others, no, that is not what I mean. I mean walking this path and loving those who show up in front of us as an honored guest, brought forth from a loving God and meeting them with humble reverence. May I deepen and embody this practice of love.
Grandma has crossed over and in a week I travel to the hills of her birthplace, to gather with family, and spread her ashes. I will see my father, her son, for the first time in over twelve years. I will journey through her land, knowing in my heart that she lives on, love is eternal. I remorse not for her life, as it has not ceased.
Blessed may you be, all the days of your eternal life. May you know the joy of love, happiness, and may you and I humbly remember that the divine is always leading us on…
In prayers of love and abundance,
Rachel Claire Haynes