When I think about my grandmother, Bonnie Jones, I think of her aprons. We picked one from her collection to wear while baking alongside her. Rolling out pie crusts for our holiday cherry pie, she often sings the folk song, "Can she make a cherry pie, Billy Boy, Billy Boy/Can she make a cherry pie, charming Billy?" in a tender vibrato. Still, my sisters and I sing this song when we make a cherry pie, even if my grandmother is miles away. I think of her rings, the way my fingers traced them over and over again as I grew, our fingers laced together in a church pew or saying grace at the table. My grandmother does the brave work of loving. She comes into each of our worlds--to visit, to explore. She asks questions, even when the answers might be hard to hear, because she'd rather know us than not know us. She does the physical acts of love and caretaking with endurance and steadfastness, but it's this heart courage that not everyone has. It's this way of hers I aspire to: "There is no bad news about you, there is just you. And me wanting to know you." The smell of her cheeks when she embraces us tightly, and the way her whole face crinkles into delight when we make her laugh very hard. Her love and support that is there and it is there and it is never not there: this I carry with me now and always.
~ Jen Lee