Reminder; go check out today's prize on the Smutty Advent Calendar. Natasha Blackthorn has some stuff for you, including a free e-story just for participating.
And further reminder: Tomorrow is my turn! There will be a free prize to everyone who participates, and some give-aways for a random winner. Or two. I think two. I should check my email to make sure I'm doing what I said I was going to do...
I wish I had a picture of my great-grandmother. I mean, I have one wallet-sized pic of most of the family, but Mimi is tiny in that picture. Also, it's not a computer file, just a regular picture, and I don't have a scanner anymore. Maybe I'm glad I can't scan in that picture. You'd get to see me in all my sulky, over-done eyeliner and lipstick, 13 year old glory. And I do so totally not look like I want to be there. Emo, before emo was the thing.
But that's not really what I want to talk about. Mimi was my mother's mother's mother. Her full name after marriage was Nell Ardel Longwell Hall. Or, as a friend of hers called her, Nelly Ardelly Longwelly Hallelly. We called her Mimi. At the time of her death, she had 2 children (my grandmother and my grandmother's sister, my Aunt Kit), 5 grandchildren (my mom, her two sisters, and Kit's two sons) 8 great-grandchildren (me, my 5 blood-relative cousins and 2 adopted cousins) and 1 great-grandchild (my oldest male cousin's daughter).
That same summer that my sulky picture was taken by a professional photographer, Mimi started to lose her sight. She could see around the edges, but she had cataracts in both eyes and she could no longer read or watch television. She was a bit sly; if she didn't know you were watching her, she could make her own coffee, get her own breakfast, but if she happened to see you, she'd badger you into doing it for her.
I didn't mind. I thought it was kinda cute, actually. She always looked so mischievous, like she was getting away with something. Mimi's been gone a long time now, and I still remember how she liked her coffee. I made it for her often enough that year.
Because she couldn't read, we got into this habit, that last summer. I checked out books from the local library, and got some of the old radio plays on cassette tape. Sometimes we'd listen to broadcasts - several seasons of the original Shadow radio plays. And sometimes I'd read to her.
We would sit on the back porch at my grandparent's lake home, which was screened in against the mosquitoes, and faced west. The sun would set over the lake, and we sat in canvas deck chairs, and I read Wuthering Heights to her. It was the first time I'd read it.
I remember getting to the "I am Heathcliff" speech from Chapter nine.
"I think that's the worst motive you've given yet for being the wife of young Linton."
"It is not," retorted she; "it is the best! The others were the satisfaction of my whims: and for Edgar's sake, too, to satisfy him. This is for the sake of one who comprehends in his person my feelings to Edgar and myself. I cannot express it; but surely you and everybody have a notion that there is or should be an existence of yours beyond you. What were the use of my creation, if I were entirely contained here? My great miseries in this world have been Heathcliff's miseries, and I watched and felt each from the beginning: my great thought in living is himself. If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger: I should not seem a part of it.—My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods: time will change it, I'm well aware, as winter changes the trees. My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I am Heathcliff! He's always, always in my mind: not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself, but as my own being. So don't talk of our separation again: it is impracticable; and—"
I love this piece. I tear up every single time I read it, and sometimes even when I think of it. It's those things that make me want to write, make me want to feel, make me want to be. If I believed, truly believed, that I could affect even one person as much as this paragraph affected and continues to affect me... well, that would make everything worthwhile.
In my head, I'm thirteen again and I have no idea what love really is. I won't know it until I've lived at least as long as I already have. But on some other level, I understand what Cathy is saying. Tears are streaming down my cheeks and Mimi's hand is hard on my shoulder. Her grip is surprisingly strong, given her age. I steal a glance at her out of the corner of my eye. Her milky eyes, mostly blind, are looking directly into the setting sun. But she's no more seeing it than I am. She's far away, in England, or the landscape of her own youth. I rest my hand against hers, feel the parchment texture of her skin along her fingers.
I keep reading.
I've been reading ever since.