I’ve written a little bit about both my grandmothers, Helen and Emma. I never knew Emma (my mother’s mother) because she died about 5 months before I was born, on Christmas Eve, 1956. She was 50 years old. However, my mother always told me that I have many of her traits, right down to my itching, eczematic skin (thanks, gramma!) and my love of murder mystery books. Because of this, I’ve always felt a special “closeness” with this woman I never met.
Helen was definitely NOT the “grandmotherly” type, so I guess I’m trying to be the kind of gramma that I would have wanted if I got to choose.
A few weeks ago, I got an email out of the blue from my sister-in-law. I’m not sure if she knew anything about the “bump up” I had with my siblings, because my brother is the strong, silent type and prefers not to talk about anything, god forbid something important. Anyway. She wrote that she was finally getting around to sorting through some of my mom’s things and was going to put together a box for me. I wrote her back and said that was great, I really appreciated it and to let me know if she needed any help with postage, etc.
Yesterday, a box arrived at the house. I didn’t immediately go for it because I thought it was our new MP3 player/docking station and figured G would get it. Then, as I was getting ready for bed I glanced at it and realized it was to me!
There were quite a few things in there–many that I recognized, but a few that I didn’t. One of those was a small envelope addressed to my mother as “Mrs. William D. Blank” in Fort Wayne, Indiana. My parents lived there right after they got married, as my father attended Indiana Tech to get his double major in mathematics and aerospace engineering (yeah, my dad was a smart guy).
It didn’t hit me right away, but as I read the first few words, it began to dawn–I was reading a letter to my mother from HER mother. Then I looked back at the envelope and saw that it was postmarked December, 1956. I realized that I was probably holding the last words my unknown grandmother had ever written. Her actual words. I had never seen this letter before, and, in fact, had never even seen a sample of her handwriting.
This was so amazing to me. The letter was on several small sheets of paper, like from a note pad, and she spoke of every day things–how much money she had to spend on her car ($60.00!!), that my aunt had visited with her kids, catching my mother up on home town news. She even asked my mother if the doctor had given them a due date for “the baby”. For me. I realized that some of her last thoughts in this world, this elusive grandmother of mine, were about me, the granddaughter she would never know.
I was happy to have my high school annuals, happy to have some more baby pictures and some pictures of my daughter that I didn’t have before.
But this letter was a treasure beyond words. I am not a packrat. There are few “things” that I really want to keep. But that letter will not leave my possession again, and when *I* go, there will be an explanation of its importance left behind.
Some things are just too important to forget.