The most influential people in my life have been the ones I've had the most sporadic contact with. I didn't see my first mentor all that often, but I still contemplate everything he ever told me about writing and life.
Another friend taught me about serenity through his persistant gratitude. I've since lost touch with him. Even when we lived in the same city, I only saw him every now and then.
So it was with my Grandmother, who kept believing in my writing when no one else did. She was 95 when she died, and lived on her own until the very end. Through various moves across the country, I tried to stay in touch with her as much as I could. She encouraged me to hop on a train and move to San Francisco, despite my lack of employment or housing. I guess she had complete faith in my ability to survive on my own.
When I moved back to New York, she gave me a small amount of money so I could buy furniture. She went to Walmart and bought towels. blankets and black socks so I could stay warm in the winter.
If you asked me if I was close to her, I don't know would've said back then. Nor do I know if she was close to me. But she must have been, since she plays such a prominent role in two novels and other assorted projects. I didn't realize the extent of her involvement in my life until I thought about it. She wasn't just a grandmother; she was far more than that.
Even in death, she's taught me a tremendous amount. Far more than I could detail here.
My Grandmother saw 17 presidents take office. She lived through the Great Depression, a number of wars, two waves of feminism, and mind-boggling technological changes. The Internet thrilled and frightened her. She insisted that I had a cold everytime I called her on my cell phone. It was usually just a bad connection.
I loved her, and I told her each time I said goodbye on the phone. But I never realized the impact she had on my life until now - artistically and spiritually. It's going to take a long time to understand the things she taught me.