Yesterday I was looking for something to spruce up my outfit a little. It was the annual Carols and Communion service at church, and I wanted to look somewhat “nicer” than usual.
I was rooting around in my jewellry box and came across a white brooch. Instantly I was back in time, to an era when my British grandmother used to twirl my 7-year-old hair gently into ringlets with wet rags before bedtime. In the morning I would wake up and untwirl the fabric, feeling like a princess. She wasn’t able to visit often, her home was a farmhouse in the English countryside, and my home was in the suburbs of Toronto. But we had a connection, her and I, that spanned countries and generations.
I remember her letters, I remember her smile, I reemember her soul. And I remember the brooch. I have two of them. Another she gave me just before she got on a plane bound for her homeland. I told her that her brooch was pretty and sparkly, then she pulled it off her coat, bent down to my level and placed the treasure in my little-girl hand.
This Christmas season I remember my Grandmother. Her name was Edith. She raised two boys in a centuries-old farmhouse called Denby Hill Farm in Oakworth, West Yorkshire. She washed her clothes by hand, and did her dishes under a window that saw the cows walk by twice a day for milking. Her life was not easy, but her faith in God was strong.
I can imagine her looking out over the moors, the wind in her white curls, finding strength for the days ahead. Maybe that particular day was a Sunday. Maybe she’d found something extra-special to wear to church when she looked in her jewellry box that morning.
And maybe, just maybe, it was a white brooch.