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The wind is howling, the rain is bucketing down, and I’m snuggled under a fluffy blue blanket. There’s a fire flickering in the fireplace— where else would it be, doh— and I’m overwhelmed by a lazy nostalgia. Silly memories are popping up out of nowhere. Some are so obscure I don’t know where they were hiding.

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Like, how my grandparents used to say pit-za instead of pizza, and they placed heavy enfaces on the T. Not sure why they called it that. They travelled all over the world, and Italy was stamped on their passports. Did they know something I don’t? Is it the correct pronunciation, or was it one of their endearing quirks?

I never asked them when they were here. Despite my curiosity, I couldn’t bring myself to do it. It would’ve ruined something special. It was a cute mispronunciation that was comforting. It was uniquely them, and by-gum, I loved them for it. 

What kind of monster would I have been if I had taken that away? Shatter the moment, deny myself and them the pleasure of their distinctiveness? Nay, perish the thought.

It’s funny how language can be as unique as the individual speaking. An odd turn of phrase or mispronunciation that becomes synonymous with that person. All it takes is a single word, and you know who’s talking. It brings a smile to your face, there’s a tingle of joy in your sternum, and you chuckle. Perhaps you correct them, but you probably let it go because you’re not one of those people.

You know the sort. I am the sort. Yes, my friend, I admit this with a modicum of shame. Buried deep inside of me is a grammar and linguistic cop. She loves to issue reprimands, tickets and correct the misguided. An annoying trait, I agree, and I’m learning to resist the compulsion. Nobody likes the person who cuts in with a, “I think you meant to say…” It’s rude, obnoxious, and it needs to stop.

Note to self: Don’t act like the rear end of a baboon.

It’s easier to do when the error has become a comforting identifier. My grandparent’s pronunciation of the word pizza or that one friend who can’t, for the life of them, say Glasgow (it sounds like glass-glow). When I say cinnamon? I can’t help myself. I have to add extra syllables. I can’t tell you how hard it was to write it correctly, and if I don’t say it out loud, I might rupture something vital.

One moment, please. *Cough* Ah, that feels worlds better.

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Oo, I just glanced out the window and snuggled deeper into my comfy blanket. It’s raining a little harder, and the heat from the fire is taking up a lot of space. Too much space? Mm, I’m sinking further into this nostalgic reverie, and the deeper I go, the stronger the voices of the past become. 

After all these years, separated by time and the grave, my grandmother’s peculiar parlance, is still very much alive. I was closer to her than my grandfather. She was one of my best friends. I adored her so much. It’s funny how stormy days make me think of her. More than that, on this rainy day, she might as well be sitting in this room with me right now.

If I close my eyes, I can hear my Gran say, “Hi, love.” Her melodic voice rises an octave as she gets to her feet. She asks if I want a cuppa but doesn’t wait for an answer. Her long, slender fingers wrap around the handle of the kettle, and she fills it with water. She gets two teacups out of the cupboard and plops in a couple of teabags.

The ritual was the same every time I went over, and I never said no to a cuppa with her. It was our dance. A choreographed routine that was, in those moments, unique to us. The world fell away, as did any problem or worry I was carrying. With just two words, my shoulders would drop, the tension would fade, and I’d exhale a long held breath.

Hi love!

It’s been too many years since I’ve heard her voice, but the howling wind and crackling fire brings it back. It’s sending me down an unexpected rabbit hole of memories, quirky phrases, and a hefty dose of nostalgia. It’s funny how it happens out of nowhere. Conjured up as if by magic. A spell cast by the storm itself.

It’s not a bad bit of witchcraft at all. In fact, I’d call it a pleasant surprise and a wonderful gift. Whatever potion is being used or uttered ancient words that are conjuring this up? Thank you, and please don’t stop. I’m enjoying it immensely.

Of course, there’s a twinge of sadness nipping at my heels. Grief is a fickle beast, and it never really leaves us, does it? It morphs into a pleasant sort of sadness, which sounds strange. I typed the words and shook my head. How can sadness be pleasant?

I’m not sure how to describe it. I’d give anything to go back in time and relive every minute we had together. Not being able to do that? I exhale slowly, swallow the lump in my throat, and focus on the memories. That’s all I have now, and it will have to be enough.

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Thank God we made plenty of memories together. I can tap into them when I’m feeling nostalgic and let the magic take care of the rest. I can relive the moments we shared and quirks that still make me smile. I can relive those moments on a stormy day, and they warm me up. 

It’s like she’s here with me right now. I can hear her voice, smell her perfume, and feel her presence. It’s a vivid and tactile experience. I close my eyes, and I can feel my Gran’s boney fingers, gnarled by arthritis and decades of hard work, take my hand. Her loving grip squeezes my hand, and I reciprocate. I can feel it like it’s happening now, and the tension in my body melts away.

It’s been over ten years- wow, how did that happen- since I sat by her bed and held her hand. It feels like a lifetime has passed without her, but the howling storm brought some magic on the wind. She’s with me right now. As long as I keep my eyes closed, she’ll stay in this moment.

There’s so much I want to tell her about my life and what’s happened since she left. I want to watch her deftly work her knitting needles and craft something precious. I want her advice or maybe just a reassuring word. If I squeeze my eyes tighter, can I manifest these things?

And this is where the sadness creeps into the pleasant moment. It’s not the same. Picturing my grandmother here with me, as solid as it feels, is an imitation game. It will end soon enough, and I’ll have to say goodbye one more time. Her ghost, this memory, with evaporate and then…Sigh.

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I’m grateful for the imaginary time we spend together, and it’s still a gift. I would hold onto it longer if I could. If I could? I wouldn’t let it go at all. But eventually, the storm will dissipate, the wind with fade away, and the rain will dry up. The fire will be extinguished, and I’ll have to open my eyes. 

It’s in those first few minutes when reality chases away the magic that I realize how much I miss her and her quirky word choices. I feel the longing for the years that have become a part of my history. I wish I may, I wish I might, for just one more minute.

Then I say pit-za out loud and chuckle. A smile tugs on my lips, and I shake my head as I laugh again. What a strange way to say a simple word? I wonder where they picked it up? I’m so glad I didn’t correct them because that would’ve ruined this moment. 

I would have denied myself the priceless reverie. The ghosts of lost loved ones wouldn’t have visited on this stormy day. The magic spell could never have been cast. I wouldn’t have the chance to sink into a peculiar sort of happiness.

Oo, the wind is really picking up now. This storm isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. I think I’m going to shutdown my laptop, snuggle under the blanket, and close my eyes again. Hopefully, the spell hasn’t broken yet, and I can spend some more time with this one memory. 

Hi love! Mm, there it is.

Reality can hum quietly in the background while I enjoy the pleasant sadness.

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