Windows to the Soul Vive been told that the eyes are windows to the soul. If you looked into my great- grandmother’s eyes, you would see the slow evolution of time. You would see nearly a century of life and knowledge hidden behind her milky violet irises. You would see a battle, visible on the inside and out, as you watch the dementia slowly creep over as each second passes. My tutu Violet is one of the oldest people I know; she is the ultimate test of time. Over the years, she has done it all, from being a prison nurse, to surviving the death of her husband when she was 50, to living through the Second
World War. My memories of her are clear, and many, for she is a loving person, but one stands out among the rest. This was before she began to slowly descend towards memory loss and give in to old age; before time took its toll on her. We knew that we had to tell her everything that was needed to tell and she had to share all she knew with us before she began to forget. This particular memory took place at my grandmother Nannette house, (my tutu’s first daughter). It was my tutu’s 90th birthday party and all of our family was there.
We all stood around the wooden soak table at my grandmother’s house, our feet bare against the floor, each of our hands linked together. I knew the feeling of everyone’s hands there, from the countless prayer circles, in which we all bowed our heads, waiting for our tutu to bless us and the food so that we could eat. The smell of flower lei hung in the air, fragrant and delicate, intertwining with the smell of cooked meat and my tutu’s plum-and-apricot cake. We then decided to do something different. For my tutu’s ninth decade of life, to nor her, we would all go around the circle, sharing something that was special to us about her.
My tutu stood there, leaning on her cane, tears in her milky violet eyes, as she shook slightly on it’s wooden handle, hand resting lightly on the carved owl with the winking yellow gem eyes that was carved on the top. She stood tall, for a woman of her great age, her dark brown skin wrinkled and her dyed black hair waving slightly in the island breeze. She listened to each of us, as we shared what made her special. We each had something different to share. One would share how he had taken them in and became their mother.
Others spoke about her great devotion to her religion and how she had helped them in times of need. When we would finish telling her what made her great, we would then take our hands and dip them in paint, and leave our handprint on the thin white quilt laying on the floor. Dozens of handprint already lay there, each one a different size and different color; leaving behind a permanent mark on the quilt and an emotional mark on my tutu’s heart. I looked around, suddenly in awe of how many people stood linked together. My tutu had touched the lives of many.
She has lived to see 3 generations, all of whom came from her. I stood on my tutu’s left, her first of firsts. She had always told me that I was special to her heart. My grandmother was my tutu’s first daughter, my father grandchildren. She had raised me to be a leader for my other cousins. Seeing the different array of people spread around the circle, I listened to their voices, each so different, yet familiar. The voices I had heard since childhood have always brought me peace, love and Joy. When it came to be my turn, I looked around the circle, and was speechless.
Tears filled my eyes, like so many others there. The love in the air was palpable. And then I said my part, put my hand on the cloth, and then it was over. Years later, if I recall the memory briefly, I will remember the glistening of happy tears, the smell of the flowers and the echo of voices in my ears. I will remember the feel of fingers wrapped around mine and the feel of the breeze on my face. My tutu has touched the lives of many, including my own. Today, she will wake up and we will not know what she has remembered. On other days, she will know who he is, and those are the days to listen.
Some days she will tell me not to listen to the other her. She’ll say “Some days I am not myself, for my sickness has made me weak and unkind. Don’t remember me on those days. Remember me for what I once was, a woman of virtue and kindness. I do not wish to be remembered as a woman who only knows who she is on some days and forgets everything except for her name. I want to be known as the one who always showed aloha. ” Even now, she fights for herself, even though she is no longer what she once was. The only thing she usually members is her latest mantra; a quote by J.
Garfield, “If wrinkles must be written on our brows, let them not be written upon the heart. The spirit should never grow old. A quote that is true in her everyday life. She now is wheeled everywhere and the only thing that interests her is staring out the window, content to watch night turn into day. Barely eating and barely making it through each day, spending all her time lost in her thoughts. But her eyes never grow old, she may be old, but her soul is young. Grandmother’s eyes you would see knowledge that only comes from time.
Now as she nears a century of life, time is more evident. Her soul is reflected into her eyes. But if you looked into my eyes, what would you see? Would you see the stories that I have collected for my grandmother over time, or would you see a girl or young woman, who Just wants to live life? I believe that in the end of it all, I am the memory keeper, the keeper of memories given to me by a woman who can no longer remember them herself. You would see someone whose eyes are mirrors of that of an old woman. And that, I believe, is what you would see if you looked into my eyes.