I thought of you today. I was remembering your made-from-scratch biscuits and gravy, and wishing I’d thought to ask you to teach me how to make them. I know you’d just have said, “Oh, honey, it’s just a lil’ of this, and a lil’ of that.” But I still wish I’d thought to ask.
I was remembering how you always greeted us from your kitchen, where you’d be elbow-deep in dough or frosting or cake batter. You always rushed to clean your hands off so you could give us proper hugs–you’d scoop us up like so much candy and cover us with your love.
I was remembering the sound of your laughter. Sometimes small and quiet giggles, with closed eyes and shaking shoulders. Other times loud guffaws with tears streaming down your cheeks. But always, always with gusto.
I was remembering how, no matter who’s birthday it was, there was always a little something for every cousin at the party. Little grab bags of candies and toys to show us you thought each one of us was worth celebrating every day of the year.
I was remembering sitting outside under the pavilion at the lake, home for a weekend from college, my shiny new tape recorder in hand, interviewing you and Paw for a family history paper I was writing. I remember realizing how much life you had both already lived, and the feeling of finally realizing you were more than just “grandparents.”
You’d been parents and volunteers and band boosters and fund raisers and upstanding citizens in your community. You’d worked hard jobs and long hours to put food on the table for your children. You’d lived through wars. You watched a man take his first step onto the moon’s surface. You mourned a beloved President after his assassination. You had dedicated your lives to the service of others–through Boy Scouts and the Band Parent’s Association and the county school board and the Moose Lodge. You made people’s lives better.
You lived a life filled with love. Family. Purpose.
I thought of you today, Nanny. And so I sat down to write you a letter. I already had the pretty card picked out. I was going to send you pictures of our summer vacation, because I knew they’d make you smile. Pictures of me and my husband laughing, standing beneath the boughs of the biggest tree you’ve ever seen in your life. Pictures of my brother and me acting silly at the mini-golf course. A picture of me and Daddy, both round-faced but happy. (I’d try to send you a picture of Mom, but she still doesn’t like having her picture taken. Remember?) Maybe I’ll send some more flowers–they told me how much you liked the wild flowers I sent in July. I have your letter right here, filled with life and love, ready to send.
But I’ll save the stamp, Nanny. Because you’d tell me to. And because I know that from your rockin’ chair in Heaven, you already know all the things I’d tell you in my letter anyway.
Give Paw a kiss for me.
All my love,
Dec. 23, 1933 – Aug. 14, 2011