Crossing the railroad, after the endless fields of corn and sunflowers we arrived at the street to my grandma’s house. It was a bright green house behind a green iron fence, rustic iron doorbell, lush bushes, trees, and plants with pink flowers. At the doorway was a wooden bench, placed there for hellos and goodbyes and many conversations in between.
My grandma used to sit on that wooden bench and wait for our car to appear from the distance. I’d wind my window down and wave at her until we parked and I was able to jump out and jump into her arms.
On that wooden bench, she used to sit also after she waved me goodbye when I headed off across the town to my cousin’s house on my grandpa’s old rustic bicycle.
She used to sit there throughout the day, and neighbors would come and go, they’d share the latest events and drink coffee. People would stop by on their way to the graveyard, and ask for a glass of water. Sometimes they would just sit down and rest their feet, catch a breath and share a kind word, before continuing.
That bench used to serve as a store as well. My grandfather had bees and used to make this delicious honey. The honey was dark in color, made from pollen that the bees would bring from the woods around. It was an amazing honey. Not too sweet, like honey from field flowers usually is, but you could truly taste the pine trees and other tree juices the bees were picking to make it. It was thick, and pure. I used to eat it with the spoon and roll the spoon around until it stopped leaking. Then I put it in my mouth and swirl the spoon around until the honey was completely melted. My grandpa made lots of this amazing honey each year. Some they gave away to family and friends, lots of it we took home, and the rest my grandma was selling at that wooden bench in front of the house.
At that bench, my grandma used to wait for me when I was returning home from a night on the town with my cousin. When I was smaller, I used to be afraid to walk alone on that street because the house is close to the graveyard and some local kids used to scare us that the dead come out of their graves at night and chase little girls like me. Later, when I was a bit older, I knew that wasn’t true, but I still felt a bit uneasy when entering the street and always paced my steps to arrive as soon as possible. When I saw my grandma come forward to the road to meet me, all my fears were gone.
Sometimes we’d sit late into the night on that bench and talk about everything. School, boys, growing up, my fears, just everything. Grandma had an answer to everything and she knew how to calm me down, reassure me or give me a proper advice. I wish now that I was writing them all down, but I hope some stuck in my head nevertheless.
That bench was also a knitting bench. She’d bring out her knitting and sit there until the roll would run out. Frequently the neighbors would come to join her with their knitting as well. Two, three or even four women would sit there, each with her knitting. They were able to knit and talk endlessly. Until they ran out of their thread or until it was time to prepare a lunch or dinner for their families.
That wooden bench is still there. But my grandma is not here anymore.
Today marks 12 years since she’s passed away. She died on a Christmas day, as celebrated by Orthodox Christians, and they say, anyone who dies on a holiday, is an angel. She is my angel.