Southwestern Indiana's Catholic Community Newspaper


By Mary Ann Hughes

Sometimes when I’m feeling a little melancholy and out of sorts, I head to a site on the Internet and I search for a photo of my grandparents’ home.

In their twilight years, they lived in a small bungalow situated right across the street from their parish church. It had a wide front porch and a huge, spotless kitchen where my grandmother reigned. Well, actually, she pretty much ruled the entire house, and my grandpa held court in a lush vegetable garden in a side yard.

I spent a summer with them when I was 12 years old, and occasionally after the supper dishes were done the three of us would take a walk to the nearby Oconto River.

It was so quiet and serene there, and I still remember watching my grandma as she sat by the river bank. She was always dressed in a pretty housedress with sensible shoes, and I remember studying her beautiful alabaster Irish skin. She didn’t say much as she gazed at the river and watched children playing nearby.

She must have known that she had fewer days ahead of her than behind her, and I wonder what she was thinking back then.

I don’t know how it happened, but now I am the grandma. I am the one sitting and watching my young grandchildren as they play, all of their lives stretching out ahead of them.

I have come to realize that while we may look very different on the outside, grandmothers are probably all the same in their hearts.

We know that much of what we worried about in the past didn’t really matter. Things have gotten simplified and clarified for us as we have aged.

As young women, our lives may have seemed pretty black and white. Now, as we grey, life has become more nuanced.

We’ve answered a lot of questions about life, but a few remain.

I was talking to an older friend recently. She is someone who has wonderful people skills. When I asked how she learned to deal with the difficult people in her life, she shook her head and said softly, “I never did.”

When I told my husband about our conversation, he just laughed and said, “That’s why they call them difficult people.”

My pastor probably has the best answer. He talks of sinners who are made in the image and likeness of God. We are surrounded by them; in fact, we are them!

His words have helped me as I continue to learn kindness in my own twilight years.

I have two prayers. One, that I love the difficult people that God has put into my life, remembering the words from Genesis: God created mankind in His image; in the image of God He created them; male and female — He created them.

And my second prayer? That I become less of a difficult person myself.