"Over the years I watched ants swarming to the crumbs dropped atop an ant mound," my great-grandmother said to me. I knew the crumbs were the leftovers of a life destroyed by the disease she still suffered from. The ants were those she once knew and trusted, those who I was told fought each other over the parts of her life that remained; the crumbs that still sustained them.
"As terrifying as it was to watch, the fright did not come close to the sadness I felt for every last one of them," she said. "They were ants, after all. Ants who could not change what they were because they were not aware they could be anything else. They would never know the wonders and privileges of the beauty I had known as a human being."
I had a feeling the ones she referred to as ants had revealed something about themselves she could not have seen without the illness she suffered from. I think they also showed her something about herself that maybe she never saw before: just how beautiful she was.
"It's a beautiful day, Great-Grandmother," I said, hoping to steer her eyes away from her repetitive memories and thoughts and towards the scenic mountains on the horizon.
"People have such a misconception of what beauty is," she said to me, "People want so much to believe in beauty, but they often confuse beauty with appearance."
"Keep your flower beds clean, else weeds will grow. There are toxins in their blood!" she said loudly sitting straight up before relaxing back into her chair.
"Beauty has nothing to do with appearance," she continued in a softer voice, "But it has everything to do with what is within."
I struggled as I listened, trying to understand levels of meaning that I guess I was too young to understand.
Her words fell silent as she rocked herself back to sleep. I continued to sit on the porch, thinking to myself how little the disease mattered, for she would always be the most beautiful person I would ever know.