Eyes Open – Eyes Closed

By Maike Newman

MaikeEven if I am not able to remem­ber the pit­ter-pat­ter of my lit­tle feet on the rug-cov­ered hard­wood floor any­more, I still recall this com­fort­able feel­ing I had sleep­ing over at my grand­par­ents. The times I woke up in the morn­ing in my room, climbed out of my bed, sneaked across the hall­way to my grand­par­ents’ room, and came to a stop right in front of my grandmother’s bed. I looked straight at her face, her eyes still closed. It nev­er took more than a minute before she opened them, smiled at me, and said, “Good morn­ing, my lit­tle darling.” 

For me, seem­ing­ly insignif­i­cant sit­u­a­tions like these are what I con­nect to so much love, free­dom, and adven­ture, and it makes me smile every time I recall them. Straight away, it brings back mem­o­ries of the times I stayed at my grand­par­ents’ house and played in their gar­den. These reg­u­lar occa­sions were filled with care­free adven­ture, com­fort, and love. My grand­par­ents lived in the coun­try­side in a house sur­round­ed by fields and forests. The gar­den was so vast that it was easy to get lost in between the fruit trees, bush­es, and flower beds. Every sea­son was a unique expe­ri­ence: in sum­mer the chirp­ing of the birds; dur­ing autumn the crunch­ing of leaves under­foot; in win­ter the qui­et sound of snowflakes cre­at­ing a soft blan­ket; and dur­ing spring the bright vari­ety of col­ors sig­nal­ing a new beginning.

Stay­ing there meant one adven­ture after anoth­er. Some­times it was a vis­it to the local soc­cer club, oth­er times a ride through the gar­den in a wheel­bar­row pushed by my grand­fa­ther, or a trip around the grounds on a rid­ing lawn mow­er. With my grand­moth­er it may have been berry pick­ing, play­ing with the ani­mals, or play­ing hide-and-seek. Those times were so care­free that it was easy to drift into day­dream­ing, and I would often spend the whole day out­side. But no mat­ter what I expe­ri­enced, the best thing was climb­ing the stairs at the back of the house to see my grand­moth­er stand­ing in the kitchen while she was bak­ing or cook­ing some­thing. The love­ly smells var­ied through­out the year from the sweet fruity scent of straw­ber­ry mar­malade or apple pie to the mouth-water­ing aro­ma of a steam­ing roast din­ner or fresh aspara­gus soup. These scents would waft through the glass pan­el door onto the ter­race and reach me when I entered the house.

My grand­moth­er was always a warm and car­ing woman, con­cerned first and fore­most about the well-being of every­one around her. Stand­ing in the kitchen watch­ing her whizz around was one of the most com­fort­ing feel­ings of my child­hood. And for some rea­son, always at the right time, my lit­tle mug was placed in front of me, filled to the brim with steam­ing tea or cocoa. My grand­moth­er always gave me a pure and gen­er­ous smile that told me I was spe­cial and loved unconditionally.

At that time I took all those things for grant­ed, as they were – and always had been – a part of my life. Only now can I tru­ly appre­ci­ate how spe­cial these moments were.

Not such a long time ago, I could hear my halt­ing and hes­i­tant foot­steps on the ster­ile floor. For a moment on that walk down the white cor­ri­dors, I remem­ber feel­ing very small once again. I opened the door and took a few steps until I stopped in front of my grandmother’s bed. I looked at her and wait­ed … sec­onds … min­utes … an hour … eyes closed.


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