You were the master letter writer and so I thought I’d write a letter to honour you and your life. When we lived in Europe, you would faithfully write to me every other week, even though I wasn’t nearly as faithful in return. Sometimes they were so funny, like the time that you said that what you enjoyed about summer camp was “throwing fags on the fire” . I could just imagine your woop of realization and your giggle when you read my response, educating you on the modern meaning of the word “fag”. One of my favourites was when in the middle of a sentence, the word just trailed off into a long line down the length of the page. An arrow pointed at it and you had written in small letters, “I fell asleep here.” I wish, now, that I had kept it.
You were always such a clutter bug. I guess that’s where I get it, since I’m constantly fighting against myself leaving little piles of things in the oddest places (like my china cupboard. Why? Because it’s hidden there. ha!) You would have piles of papers and clippings and envelopes laying all over the place. I remember one time, hearing about how you tried to hide the rising piles of paper clutter under one of the placemats on your table. As if we couldn’t see it! I also see where I get my creatively sneaky side. 😉 There was a time when I was about 4 years old when you called our house shortly after we had been visiting you at yours, and asked if I had taken an item of some sort because you couldn’t find it. When my mom got off the phone, I said, as only a wise 4 year old can, “If she cleaned up all her junk, she might be able to find it!”
You were a great gift giver too. Always including simple, sweet items in your letters. Your great motto in life, though, in regards to gifts to your grandchildren was “Even Stephen!” I don’t know why, but whenever I heard you say that, I pictured the ‘ph’ version of the name. I loved the nail boards that you would include in your letters to me. A sweet way for you to let me know that you were thinking of me and you cared. I remember one time when I picked a letter up out of our mailbox and felt something inside. I was so excited. I loved the surprises that you sent. When I opened it up, I was confused to find a metal hair clip. Looking at it more closely, memories stirred inside me and I realized where I had seen it before – it was one of your clips to keep your curlers securely in place. I laughed, kept it around for a few days (undoubtedly on top of a pile of stuff) and sent it back to you with my reply, along with the 2 stamps and small grocery list that had also made it into the letter.
How I loved hearing from you. Even the most mundane details were special. I felt connected to your days. As the years went on, I could see the their effect had not missed your hand. Seeing the deterioration of your script warned me of the reality of your mortality. I knew even then that I wouldn’ t have you around forever. Because of this, I held you closer in my heart. When we moved to the desert, I was sad that your letters did not follow. My heart ached that I didn’t know what your daily life was any longer; what you ate for lunch or dinner was a detail missing in my imaginings of what you were keeping busy with. I missed your voice in my head as my eyes scanned your words, trying to piece together what you were trying to say. In your words, “I ruin the English language by omitting words”.
I was glad to have the time that we did back home so that I could see you and so that my children could make their own memories of you. They remember you and speak of you often. You have a legacy in your grandchildren and great grandchildren – there is no way that I could be where I am today without your prayers and love. Your example to me is your faithfulness.
You also are the example of ultimate hostess to the point of being overbearingly caring. I remember accepting the offer of a cracker just so that you would stop offering me food! I do the same things to the ones that I love now. Thank you for instilling that gift of caring for people in my home. Between you and my mother, I am firmly rooted in the art of hospitality.
Grandma, I miss you. I love you. I’m so glad that I got to sit beside you before we moved, and watched some of the Sound of Music together. That snapshot of your sweetness will be forever in my mind. But there are so many more memories that I will hold dear – fighting over the temperature control in your condo (it was a freaking sauna!), you offering to a throw a roast into the oven at all hours (even midnight!), you playing the piano, your selective deafness, the way I would cough because Iwas trying to clear your throat. You are, and always will be my grandma. An important and integral part of my heritage.
Thank you, Grandma, for your life. I love you. I will miss you every day.