What gift can we bring? (11/14/21)

Rev. Jessica Palys


What an enriching week of faith, beauty, and story that we’ve had! We have seen the handiwork, heard the words, and learned the struggles, contributions, and triumphs of women; we’ve learned how their love, perseverance and foresight impacted generations that came after. We have been threaded together by our connected stories and shared experiences of being cherished by our grandmothers. We have celebrated that which almost all of us had, that which some of us may have taken for granted and forgotten to celebrate. To bring this to a close, I thought I’d share a story about one of my grandmothers.

I was quadrupedally blessed - I had four through my family of remarriage. (well, 5, technically, although the one whom I’m named after died when my mother was young.

As a child, the one I was closest to was my father’s mother - largely because as a new father newly separated, I don’t think he knew what to do with a baby - so I spent a lot of time with my German grandmother whom I called Oma. She was a war bride who married a Polish American soldier during World War II.

All of my thoughts about Oma are the deeply embedded kind, the kind that are hard to put into words but rather feel like an imprint upon our physical childhood selves. I can almost hear her slightly raspy voice, her laugh, and her accent. There was a no-nonsense chiding in her smile, a lot of butter in her mashed potatoes, and a lot of love in all the baby pictures she handed over when I was an adult. And her smell haunts me. Every once in a while I’ll get a whiff of something that almost approximates it and grasp at what I can’t describe. I imagine she was instrumental in helping a new father feel comfortable caring for a baby every other weekend until he remarried when I was four, and she moved to Florida when I was 7.

I suppose my grandmother loved to knit because every Christmas there would be a gift in the mail holding a card with her German-infused spelling errors and a new sweater. Each of my dad’s 4 daughters would get at least one, so she stayed busy. Given that I was so far away, it’s remarkable that she kept up with the growing I was doing. When we became adults, the sweaters ceased. She sent blankets instead. She probably figured we were too old for homemade clothes.

3 years ago, when my sister had her f