A Short Story by Elaine Ambrose
Ella was thirteen years old when she came home from school and found her mother and her Aunt Mary crying in the kitchen.
Ella rushed to her mother and asked, “What’s wrong?”
“We lost Grandma,” her mother sobbed.
“Well go find her!” Ella demanded. She started to run out the door to go search for her grandmother, but her mother gently guided her to the couch and sat beside her.
“I should have said she passed away. Grandma died today.”
Ella realized her grandmother wasn’t lost. She was dead. Ella wept.
Several nights later, Ella couldn’t sleep because she was thinking about her grandmother. Ella thought about the wonderful and happy adventures they had enjoyed. Her grandmother was funny and active, and they often sang songs and made up silly stories. It wasn’t fair they couldn’t be together.
She finally fell asleep and began to dream. In her vision, she rode her bicycle to a strange place. Her grandmother was there, and she was wearing a sparkling purple dress and had flowers in her long, white hair. Other older people were in the room with her.
“Grandma!” Ella cried. “Please come back. I miss you.”
The grandmother smiled at Ella. “It was my time to go,” she said gently. “But I won’t be far away from you. Every time you smell gingerbread and pine trees, think of our winter holidays together. Feel my touch when the warm summer breeze moves your hair. And when you hear the song of the meadowlark, know I am watching over you.”
“I want to tell stories with you again,” Ella said.
“You will, in your own way,” said her grandmother. “You can write or tell me stories and pretend I’m with you. We’ll never be completely apart because you and I share the bloodline of our ancestors. You carry the spirit and creative talents of writers, poets, musicians, and entertainers. You have compassion, goodness, and courage from your relatives who were teachers, caregivers, soldiers, and peace officers. Your pioneer heritage includes farmers, truck drivers, and community volunteers. And, you carry the spiritual faith of generations of strong people who never gave up, even when betrayed or suffering from physical and mental pain.”
Ella was amazed at her grandmother’s words and felt proud to continue the family legacy. “I won’t disappoint you, Grandma,” she said.
When Ella woke the next morning, she remembered the dream. She opened her bedroom window and saw a meadowlark in the tree next to the house. The bird had a bright yellow chest with speckled brown feathers and sang a cheerful song.
“Good morning, Grandma,” Ella said as she reached for her notebook and pencil. “Let’s write a story.”
(Illustrations are from the award-winning, children’s book Gators & Taters – A Week of Bedtime Stories.“)