THE GIFT OF YOUR PRESENCE
THE GIFT OF YOUR PRESENCE
“For (Jesus) has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’”
One of the greatest gifts one human being can give to another is the gift of their presence. It is the gift of being there, of hanging out together, of sharing ordinary moments of life with another today that make up the precious memories of tomorrow.
When I was a seven year old boy, my dad would often drop me off at my grandmother’s house for a visit on a Friday night. It was a special time where we sat together on her old worn couch and nibbled on fresh made popcorn while watching her 19 inch black and white Stromberg-Carlson television set, that was part of a tube type console that also held a stereo phonograph and two speakers. You would have to wait a few minutes to get a picture, until the tubes inside warmed up. At around 9 o’clock in the evening, we would turn off the TV and we would head to bed – she in her room and me on the couch.
The best part of my visit would be our early Saturday morning walks to the Public Market. We would be up a 5:30am and she would make me fine ham and egg breakfast. Then she would ask with a grin on her face who wanted to go with her to the market. For over seventy-five years my Grandma would make this same weekly trip to the market for her groceries. I would eagerly answer, “Me. Me. Please take me.”
While she cleaned the dishes, it was my job to bring up the folding wheeled grocery cart from its basement storage spot. Down the nine steps I would go, into the damp basement and find the cart leaning against an old painted concrete wall. Up the stairs I would climb, trying not to clatter the cart against the steps or walls, into the presence of my appreciative grandma.
With a smile on her face and she would always say in broken English, “Attsa-gooda-boya Carlo! Andare’” (That’s a good boy Carl. Let’s go!) It was her thing. It was an act of love that she did for her family.
Off we would go out the side door onto the driveway and onto the narrow paved sidewalk. It was a couple of mile walk to the market, but I being filled with anticipation didn’t mind the trek at all. I got to pull the empty cart to the market.
I was never allowed to wander off the sidewalk into the busy street. We would walk together and she would tell me stories of the old days, or we would wonder what would be at the market. She hoped the vegetables and eggs would be fresh. I hoped there was a calf, a lamb, or a goat, or a chicken to pet or feed. Everyone at the market knew her and welcomed her. They would greet her with, “Buon giorno Salavtrina! Come stai?” (Good Morning Salvatrina! How are you?).
It was a great time of being together. It was a special “Me and my Grandma” sacred bonding time together. It was a time of being together and in the sharing precious ordinary moments with one another. It was a time when the invisible knitting needles of family life weaved new patterns of experience for us to enjoy for years to come. She would pull the full cart home while I was busy eating a fresh piece of fruit.
I am over 70 years old now. Grandma has been gone to glory for decades now. But to this day, every once in a while, I recall and appreciate those sacred times of weaving together that have made me who I am today. All it took was to take a little time to share.