This weekend I have seen thistles everywhere, like a sign from my grandmother.
My Grandma (McIlroy) Keedy was a tiny woman with strong emotions, good and bad. She was a beautiful lady, headstrong, small, sometimes prickly, most of the time loving. I have great memories of my grandmother, from family gatherings spent at her house, most of which she spent in the small kitchen that I now use, her face red from the hot baked food on the counters and from the heat of the oven. Her shortbread and Yorkshire pudding come to mind immediately. I picture the way she walked, with her pinky finger out, jiggling her Leo key ring. Drinking tea with her, at her dining room table with the lace tablecloth, and creating toys out of nothing, like empty spice bottles we would wash out and fill with food coloring. I remember when I had the chicken pox at the advanced age of 16 years old, I spent these long itchy days in my grandmother's sitting room, watching game shows and reading her giant astrology book. I always thought it was weird she had that, just like I thought it was weird she had a framed photo of the Pope hanging in there, since my grandma was Scottish Presbyterian.
The thistle to me symbolizes my grandmother - last year I had one tattooed on the back of my neck, in honor of my grandmother. Not sure how she would feel about tattoos, but I do know that she would approve of doing what you think is right, no matter what. The thistle is a symbol of Scotland too - and there is even a "Most Ancient and Noble Order of the Thistle", whose motto is "'no-one provokes me with impunity". I am pretty sure this was my grandma's motto too. And I have to admit, I take a page from my grandma occasionally as well.
We have thistle growing as a weed in our backyard, thanks to my bird feeders. It is pretty rampant, and we have to keep on it. I do leave some standing though, I can't help but think it is pretty. And this weekend, we went to the Celtic Festival in Saline, where I obviously saw thistle everything, even this Bagpipe group with a thistle as its logo.
I couldn't help but think, at this time so close to my grandmother's birthday, that she was whispering to me to remember her. And I do.