It started raining when I got home from school. I opened all our windows (we have two) and cozied up with a green blanket on our little white sofa. I read from my so far favorite collection of modern essays, as well as essays written by women in my writing class. While I read, I listened to the rain on the rocks and the leaves outside our windows.
My mom tells me that my great-grandmother always opened her windows too. That at night, she would open every window in their two story woodfloored house–even when it was freezing!–so that when she woke up in the morning, the house was ready for all kinds of new smells.
Mummi is what her four grandchildren called her, even though her name was Hollis. Hollis Lydia Strang Joplin. She was my mom’s dad’s mother and she was lovely.
One time, my mom found a stray kitten in a pile of dirt in Mummi’s backyard. My mom picked up the kitten and was stroking it, when out of the blue, the kitten hissed and scratched her. My mom threw the kitten on the ground. Mummi scooped up the thing and when my mom started to protest because of the heartlessness of the creature, Mummi said, “Oh baby doll, it’s just frightened, that’s all.”
Mummi ended up taking the kitten to the veterinarian. She told my mom later that the kitten had a beebee stuck in its skull. What my mom thought was dirt was really dried blood.
My mom tells me I have long arms like Mummi’s, that I have slender bones and silky hair like Mummi’s. My mom tells me Mummi would have loved my colors, my scarves, my pillows, and my lamps. From everything I hear about Mummi, I think she would have loved that I like to read with windows open, listening to the rain, reading essays with words so pretty I can’t help but cry.
Sometimes I miss Mummi even though I’ve never met her. I missed her today, when my feet and lungs were so cold from opening the windows. I thought about her holding a daddy long legged spider in her hand and showing it to my mom–pointing out its long legs, joints, round body, and how it moved and, “Wasn’t it something?” She told my mom there was no reason to kill it, that they should just take it outside and let it live.
Today I missed her so I swept my wood floors and made whole wheat bread and homemade granola bars for her. I think she would have liked to have had a slice of bread, perhaps, to have listened to the splashing rain through the open windows, to have talked about what I had read and what about it had made me cry.