Personally, I have never in my life felt safe. I was sexually molested by my father from infancy. My mother, who lost her mother to scarlet fever when she was five years old and was then sent into foster care, lost her boyfriend in a car accident at 21, and lost her first child at three years old, when she was 25, never felt safe. Her fear that I would die kept me from feeling safe with her as well. Her pain of loss and her fear of not ever being safe translated into incredible anger which she focused on me. I had no grandmothers or aunts or older sisters, or anyone in my childhood who created a safe place for me. I have managed to connect with the Divine throughout my life, which has been my saving grace. I started going to church by my own choice and walking the six blocks all alone when I was four years old. But as much as God or Goddess or the Divine Universe is perfect love, it is not a place to snuggle.
My connection to this divinity in the universe and within myself has been what has protected me, supported me and fueled my work throughout my life, and I would have it no other way. But on New Years Day, 2011, I received a miracle. A miracle that is so sweet that the taste of it is salty like tears of joy.
As I was doing my morning meditation, my mother's mother, who has been dead since 1920, appeared to me, not as a vision so much as her actual self coming through the veils from the other side. I am quite sure that Einstein is correct and that time is simultaneous. So, with that in mind, it was like we were simply connecting without the veil of linear time separating us. ... And then she spoke to me. She said, "I'm so glad to see you my granddaughter. I have wanted to be with your for a very long time."
Having said that she cuddled me on her lap, and I felt like I was a little girl again, being held in the arms of my loving grandma. We laughed and talked together for a long time. Her name is Nellie McCarthy, and she was born in New York City in Harlem, which was the Irish ghetto at the time she was born in the 1880s. She was one of those strong Irish women who worked and remained single long into her twenties, because she didn't want to marry a man who would drink up her hard-earned money and then treat her badly. When she was 29 or 30 years old she had enough money to take a vacation. She was daring and bold, and took a train, all alone, from New York to California. And it was in a little town in northern California that she met my grandfather at a party that she was invited to by strangers. Ah hah. Here was where I got my daring, my courage. My Grandfather was a Scotsman, strong, solid and dependable, and very handsome. Nellie McCarthy went home to New York, packed her bags and moved to California to become Mrs. Francis Murch. Together they homesteaded 20,000 acres in Siskiyou County, the home of Mt. Shasta, the coldest wildest part of California, and began a family.
I remember my mother telling me how much her mother missed the opera. She and her father went to the opera together in New York and sat in the five cent seats at the very top of the highest balcony. She brought a wind-up Victrola with her to her wild new home and played her opera recordings. My mother remembered her love for Enrico Caruso, the Italian tenor. My mother also recalled that the pioneer life was very hard on her and that she often longed for her city home.
Now, on the first day of 2011, Nellie McCarthy was holding me in her ample lap, telling me that I would always be safe. She told the little girl, Barbara, who had been shunned by the mean girls at school, that she was wonderful and that she didn't have to worry about what those mean girls did, because her grandma loved her. That was, I realized, all I ever needed. Just a grandma. A loving, caring grandma, and now, by a miracle of time, I had her here in my bedroom. And she told me she was here for good. No more feeling unsafe, I had a grandma to give me the succor and safety that I never had before.
It felt and continues to feel remarkably real and absolutely lovely. You who have or have had loving grandmothers can understand what this feeling of being loved by a grandma is. It's like nothing else. There is a strength that is at once gentle and powerful, encompassing me in its sheath of unconditional and unencumbered love.
As we snuggled together many things that I had wondered about all my life became startling clear. I was born into a rather bland middle class Republican family in Sacramento, California. But from the time I was eight years old, when I discovered there was a New York City, I longed to go there and even announced to my parents that there had been a mistake, and we should be living in New York. They just smiled at me indulgently, but I knew they were shaking their heads about their very weird child. When my mother was angry with me, which was often, she would say, "All I prayed for was a normal child and I got you!" Luckily for her my brother came along, who was relatively normal. But even though she didn't get me, she eventually bought me a subscription to the New Yorker Magazine.
As I write this my grandma is sitting across from me knitting, and listening to me tell our story to you. And she is smiling a smile of love and pride that warms my heart. I just want to thank the universe for being so magnificent to allow my grandma to come to me through the layers of time and teach me what it's like to really truly feel loved and safe. Now, I can do anything in this unsafe, changing world. I can feel the love of the great universe now more powerfully than ever before, because it is being expressed through the human heart of a real person, my grandma.