[In honor of Grandparents’ Day yesterday, I decided I would post a letter that I wrote to my grandma as she was dying. As she was in Hospice care and declining rapidly- and I was living four hours away- I wrote this letter and e-mailed it to my aunt. However, she was unable to get it to my grandma before my grandma passed away. My aunt apologized to me and said she would never forgive herself for not getting it to my grandma in time. I told my aunt that it didn’t matter: though my grandma was not able to read it during this life, I was sure she had already had a chance to read it in her new home. That was more than eight years ago and I still miss her.]
March 22, 2005
A LETTER TO MY GRANDMA
Growing up, a lot of my friends had four grandparents. I only had one, for I was too young to remember my grandpa except in a nursing home. But never once then–and surely not now–would I have ever traded you for any four others in the world.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said long ago: “To laugh often and love much; to win the respect of intelligent persons and the affection of children;…to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to give of one’s self; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived–this is to have succeeded.”
I have loved this quote since I first laid eyes on it. However, I hadn’t seen or heard it for a long time now. But this is the first thing that popped into my mind when I thought about you and how I could try to explain you and your impact on me. I have seen you “laugh often and love much.” In fact, I have very often been on the receiving end of that love.
I also know for a fact that intelligent people respect you and, more importantly, that children love you. Many of the highlights of my young life were “going to Grandma’s house” or calling her with the news of that day’s game. And it didn’t matter if we won or lost, if I had three hits or none. Because it was in those bad times that you’d say “keep your head up, you’ll get ‘em next time,” and that was even more important to me than praise.
In addition, I know you appreciate beauty, though I didn’t always understand it. I recall being at your apartment and you’d be watching the birds outside. I’d be thinking “Who really cares about the birds, there’s a game on TV?” but now I understand. You taught me this and you also taught me to appreciate the best in others. Even when I never thought I had anything to offer the world, you would always make me believe that I did.
It is also very obvious to me that you always gave yourself to others, whether as a wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, friend, or tutor. So kind, so generous, so thoughtful. Such a good example.
I believe that you have far exceeded Emerson’s observations. For you have not just touched one life, you have touched many, many more. Just look at your loved ones now–your children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren–and think about all that they have become and will become.
Our tears will in time be replaced by smiles, when we can see past our sadness and recall all of the blessings you so unselfishly gave us. For we are all better people from having known you and you are forever a part of each of us that will always live on.
I guess what I’m trying to say is “THANK YOU” and “I LOVE YOU.”