Today is my maternal Grandmother’s birthday. If I’ve done my math correctly she would have been 101 years young today. I have many wonderful memories of her which include learning how to properly knead the dough, the taste of homemade bread fresh from the oven, and playing “boutique” for hours on end. However, the image that most often comes to mind when I think of her is one of snapdragons and butterflies.
It seemed appropriate to post an essay entitled Snapdragons and Butterflies to commemorate her birthday. I wrote it in December 2010 and it’s one of my earliest completed pieces as well as one of my favorites. It also seemed fitting to illustrate the post with my first solo drawing. Although my original idea was to create a realistic interpretation of my favorite flower I decided a version that was more child-like was the way to go. Colored pencils were the medium of choice as well as a touch of pastel and ink.
Snapdragons and Butterflies
Snapdragons and butterflies will always and forever remind me of my grandmother. Many gardeners shy away from the delightful, but delicate flower – however, she embraced the challenge associated with bringing the brightly colored blossoms to life.
I could have spent hours, and probably did, pinching the tiny blossoms, making the dragon’s mouth come to life and then releasing it.
I recall there always being tiny white butterflies dancing around the flowers. Were they vying for attention or simply enjoying the playfulness?
Snapdragons seem so delicate on the outside, but if they can survive tiny hands repeatedly pinching to open and see the dragon’s mouth, you know they are strong. Snapdragons are much like my grandmother.
Her name was Lucy, not a common name, which is fitting because she was not an ordinary woman.
She was beautiful, whatever the setting. She might be dressed to the nines for church or a social event, or digging in the garden, tending to her flowers or vegetables, a worn work shirt tied around her waist.
I was always so proud to be a guest in her Sunday school class. Her hand encircled mine as we entered the room, and my heart would pound with love as her students rushed to greet her.
Like a flower has a fragrance, so did my grandmother’s kitchen. It was always filled with the aroma of meals made from scratch and with love. My eyes lit up when I saw the peas I had laboriously shelled as part of the delicious meal.
She somehow knew how to make something ordinary into something wonderful. How we cousins used to squabble over who got the ‘special knife’, the knife that rattled when you picked it up. To this day, I like to think it really was a precious jewel, and not a scrap of metal that was trapped in the handle of that knife.
Wherever she went, she knew someone. Oh, How agonizing it was to have to stop and wait while she visited with ‘just one more’ friend or relative. Little did I know, the memory would make me smile someday.
My favorite times were when it was ‘our’ time, we’d giggle and laugh as she tucked me into bed. The ritual never changed, as she playfully pinched my chin, nose and cheeks before the final kiss goodnight.
Her spirit touches me whenever I think about snapdragons and butterflies.
In loving memory of my Grandma Lucy. Dedicated to my mom and my daughter, the two most important women in my life, and with gratitude for four generations of beauty and grace.