“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel,” Maya Angelou said that. It makes me think of how being around my Grandma Alma made me feel ... the fearless speedster, soulful cook, joyful gardener. But it wasn’t just her effusive and loving personality, it was something more—her energy. That creative, curious, open-hearted sense of joy radiated out from her little house onto the porch and into the purple irises in the fencerow and the summer gardens we planted and harvested together.
Alma wasn’t like other grandmas. At 4’11” and around 200 pounds, she looked like an adorable cherubic doll. We once rode an elephant together at Circus World—she showed no fear. She drove a lime-green Vega we called “The Green Fly”, where she typically went way over the speed limit, much to my delight. I made friends with a giant sheepdog, Ralph, across the road from her house in Columbia, Kentucky, and enjoyed doing flips from end to end of her enormous front lawn to entertain rural passersby. Grandma was an incredible cook—beans and cornbread, roast beef, and chocolate fudge were regulars. She always let us have our own little garden spots during the summer that we would plant and tend together. It was the kind of place where dreams were free to grow.
Alma passed away the summer before my junior year of high school. I’m not sure if it was because of being raised in the Christian faith, or because of my own intuition, but I did not acknowledge her death as an ending. Instead, it was just a transition from our physical visits to an ongoing spiritual connectedness. Over the remaining years at home, and throughout adulthood, she remained a steady source of peace and direction.
I never forgot the joy I felt around her and how it gave me freedom to fantasize about the life I wanted to create. So, when I feel particularly frustrated, I still talk to her, even though she transitioned into a spiritual realm long ago. Her answers usually come in the form of animals—cardinals, snakes, scorpions, monkeys and others. In fact, I’ve just completed a book about the animal answers Grandma sent to guide my decisions in recent years.
It may sound a little crazy, but quantum science proves we are all made of energy. Einstein asserted that energy cannot be created or destroyed, it just changes forms. Isn’t that what we’ve been taught about life after death, that our energy transitions from this life on earth to something beyond, something wonderful, and yet still accessible?
I’m grateful for the faith my family taught me as a child and how it’s grown stronger as science reinforces it. As I reflect upon the challenges from 2020, I’m reminded that nothing is final, it is simply another transition. Regardless of the present, the future is bright!