Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Gift Amongst the Sadness

My grandmother was one of eight children.  She had two remaining sisters; the youngest suffers from Alzheimer's and lives across the country with one of her children; the other, the one to whom she has always been closest, passed away last week.

It was not unexpected and it seemed as if Grammy and my great aunt were in a bit of a race for whom was to go first. I had spoken with my mother several times and remarked that I thought it was a blessing they were both so ill together, because I thought it would be tremendously difficult for either of them to lose the other.

Grammy was too ill to attend the funeral and her health, as we suspected, has deteriorated even further since she got the news of her sister's passing.  I am on the fence between praying her suffering ends and hoping she makes it until Christmas. Yes, we said goodbye this summer, but we are SO.CLOSE to seeing each other again....

Letters from Grammy to me
Amongst all this sadness, my mother has found a gift. My grandmother is something of a pack rat. She is also a devoted letter writer, never having made the switch to email. Over the years she has saved every letter. Every.Stinkin.One.  Some time back she gave my mother a whole bagful of correspondence from when they used to write each other. Most of the letters were from when my grandparents wintered in FL, but some were from as far back as when my parents were first married and moved away for Daddy to go through Boot Camp. 

It shouldn't have been a surprise, but it was.  In my grandmothers things, my mother found a binder full of letters my grandmother and great aunt had written to each other when my grandmother was in the service and my great aunt still in high school.  They are HYSTERICAL!  In one my great aunt tells all about how she and her best friend got completely drunk at their oldest sister New Year's Eve party.  In another all the t's have been replaced with d's and b's and she ends with "As you can see, I have a horrible cold."

My great aunt has eight children of her own and several, who live out of town, came to visit with my grandmother while they were in town for their mother's funeral. Not only has my mother been able to reread these letters to my grandmother, making her laugh, but she has also been able to give her cousins a piece of the mother they never knew.

A true gift.


14 comments:

Maggie S. said...

What a precious gift to know her better and have a moment to appreciate the clearer picture while she is still with you.

Maggie S. said...

Oops!! found you at SITS. Love your writing.

Diane said...

What a heartwarming story...a woman after my own heart. I don't think I've ever thrown a card or letter from a loved one away in my life.

Wayne W Smith said...

There is something about the written word that is so much more special. A very nice post all around.

Shell said...

Such an amazing gift to have those letters. Sending prayers for your family. xo

bikebanjoandbabyblog said...

That's lovely. It's often hard to find even little joys amidst the sadness, but those letters are definitely a gift.

ChiTown Girl said...

I'm so sorry for the loss of your great-aunt. She sounds like she was a hoot, right along with your grandma. I'm so glad you have these precious mementos to remember her by.

Paloma said...

such a moving post... I am sorry for your loss and for how sick your grandma is... What a wonderful blessing that you get to peek into her youthful years... and get to know her like that... even if just through letters. What a treasure.

Aleta said...

Sending prayers for you and your family. Life is precious and so are the memories. When my grandparents on my Mom's side passed away, the 8 children divided up the furniture and house hold items. Not much was left, but my family stayed around to clean the house and get it ready to sell.

We went into my grandfather's office room, where he did Scientific studies and there was an old, black, beat-up file cabinet. My Dad opened the drawer and said, "The kids left the real treasure behind." In the drawer were stacks and stacks of letters my grandfather kept, as well as short stories my grandmother wrote.... priceless.

NJ @ A Cookie Before Dinner said...

What a gift. It makes me want to scratch email myself and start writing letters again. It seems like it is such a dying art. I'm so sorry to hear about your loss. <3

Blond Duck said...

I'm so sorry for your loss.

Babes Mami said...

That is a truly amazing gift, I would love a peek at who my Grandma and Great Aunt were back in the day. Or any older relative for that matter!

Mellisa Rock said...

What an amazing gift for your family!

Mimi B said...

So sorry for the loss of your great aunt. I'm sure that was so hard for your grammy! I'm thankful you were able to see those tidbits that were kept!! I still like the idea of keeping little things like that!