Friday, July 18, 2008

Letter to Nanny

My maternal grandmother died suddenly when I was 16. She was so precious to us. Over the years, I have found myself missing her... sometimes at the oddest times, and sometimes exactly when you'd expect grief to come rolling back in - the birth of Braeden, when my first scrapbook page was published, watching the old home videos of Christmases years ago. I like to think she can see me, and that she's proud of the person I am.

Dear Nanny,

It's been 14 years since you left. Life marched on, even though you weren't here to share it. We missed you. That day you died, I had my wisdom teeth cut out. You called Mom to check on me, and I so wish I would have been able to speak to you. That was just like you - a broken hip, probably in pain, and you were worried about me. Somehow, when the call came in that evening, the fog lifted enough that I was able to get ready to leave and give Mom the time she needed.

It was all so surreal. By the time we arrived in Arkansas, the fog had settled firmly over my brain again. I remember sleeping for a long time. When I woke, you weren't there. It felt so wrong. We all stumbled through in a daze. It didn't surprise me to see how many people were at your funeral. I think that everyone who met you loved you immediately - because you loved so freely.

Do you remember that time Sarah & I were playing frisbee in the yard and I broke the glass on the screen door? I can't remember where you were that night - maybe picking up cans along the road? - but I distinctly remember the way my stomach dropped to my feet. The very idea that I would have angered or disappointed you was unbearable. I went in the house and started cleaning. I guess I thought it would make you less mad, but you always kept such a clean house that I couldn't find anything to do! You weren't nearly as mad as I thought you would be - in fact, if I remember right, you just dismissed it and asked if I wanted ice cream!

Oh, how I miss the wonderful gardens you and Pa kept! I wish as a child I'd appreciated all the wonderful veggies like I do now! Even though I was pretty small at the time, I still laugh when I think about the peanut-shaped pumpkin that we carved one Halloween. When I concentrate, I can almost taste the wilted lettuce, fried potatoes, pinto beans, and little bit of vinegar and bacon grease. Nothing has ever tasted so good since.

You were always so crafty. Besides the beautiful quilts you made, you dabbled in so many different crafts - from the beadwork dolls to the plastic canvas stockings you made. I am afraid I didn't inherit your knack for sewing, but I did take up photography and scrapbooking. What I wouldn't give to sit down and and watch you flip through my books! I can just hear the oohs and aahs. Did you know that I've even had a couple of pages published? I'm scrapbooking on a computer. You died before the internet really took off, and you'd have been amazed to see what could be done.

You're a big part of the reason I scrap. No memory is fonder than the this: every single visit, we curled up next to you on the couch, and looked through the mountain of photo albums. You would laugh at our silliness, and tell us stories about the pictures. Sometimes you'd even pull out the albums of when you were a little girl, and tell us stories about your life. It was such a fascination to me, and I wish so much that I had recorded those conversations. I guess I always thought you'd be around, and now a lot of those memories are lost forever. My grandkids may not love me like I loved you, but I want them to have a record of my life, anyway. Thank you for leaving us what you did - the photo albums are a treasure I wouldn't trade for anything.

I'm researching our family history. I've found pictures of family members that you might not have even known about. I've been able to trace back quite a ways in some cases. It would be so wonderful if were still here to help me sort through it. My obsession with genealogy is largely because of you - those unwritten stories make me want to dig as much as I can, to know where I came from - even when the picture painted isn't a pretty one.

I wish you could see my little boy. You'd probably see a lot of me in him - I do everytime I compare pictures of me at his age. Braeden has the most beautiful brown eyes, and the sweetest personality. It saddens me so that he never got to know you. But don't worry - I'll tell him the stories.

He starts kindergarten soon. It's so bittersweet for me. I know you wanted a big family, and never got to have it. Now I'm sending my only child off to school, and it makes me wonder how you felt when Mom went that first time. I want a big family, too. If I can't have the children naturally, I'm going to adopt a few. Heck, I'm going to adopt whether I have anymore children of my own or not. I hope that makes you smile.

I miss you so much. It doesn't seem fair that you had to leave us so soon. Mom and I have commented so many times over the years that you would have loved to see what we were seeing then.

Jeff wrote a song for me when I was pregnant with Braeden. I'm going to leave you with the chorus, because it so clearly says what I feel.

I can't wait to see you, in heaven above
I can't wait to see you
wrap you up in my embrace
hold your hand and touch your face
I can't wait to see you....
I can't wait.
All my love,

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