Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Forgotten cards and letters

I have a folder on my desktop with a bunch of signatures that I've clipped for a future blog post.  I knew I had some cards put away somewhere that came from some of my great-grandparents so I went digging yesterday.  I found a couple shoe boxes of cards tucked away in the corner of my storage room.  I don't consider myself a "pack rat" but I do get sentimental about stuff and I've always had a hard time throwing away cards.  I'm also fortunate that for the first 3-4 years of my life my mom kept cards I received so I have some pretty old ones.

Anyway, I was expecting to find just run of the mill Christmas cards, etc and knew there would be a bunch from both sets of my grandparents.  I noted that my dad's mother signed all of the cards from them (every one of them - my grandpa, who's signature I showcased a few blogs ago, never signed a card).  My mom's parents were different - my grandpa signed most all of the cards until his last couple of years when my grandma started signing some (not sure why, his health was fine).  What I wasn't expecting were the things I kept and forgot I had, in particular letters from my mom's mom the last couple of years before she passed away and cards she sent for making the "Honors Convocation" each year, from May of 1990-November of 1999.

I was caught off guard by the content of some of the letters.  The little nuggets of wisdom and advice are right there in front of me and I can relate to it now in a way I couldn't back then.  I wish I'd have had a better understanding of it when I was younger.  I was just on the cusp of understanding when my grandfather passed away and my grandmother was a very private person so, although I knew she loved me very much there is so much about her that I still don't know. 

I found myself overwhelmed with emotions when reading them, reliving some good and some bad, realizing that my grandmother was trying to tell me things that I wasn't hearing at the time and truly realizing that she understood her time was short and she wanted to impart her wisdom while she still could.  I found myself "looking in the mirror" and wondering if I'd lived up to their "expectations" (probably not the word I'm looking for but it'll have to do).

Perhaps she understood that I'd keep them and find myself reading them again someday.  I found this snippet very interesting:
She sent this letter July 14th, 1997 and included a clipping from the Detroit Free Press about how genealogy was starting to really take off on the internet.  It saddened me a bit because a)I don't remember her sending me that clipping and b)she obviously knew of my interest in family history and yet we never sat down and discussed it or looked at pictures.  I'm guessing this was right after I interviewed my grandpa (who passed away a couple months later) and life just got in the way and I never pursued it.  Several of the letters she wrote told me I could stop anytime.  I feel I did better than most grandchildren keeping in touch but I could have done better.

One thing that gave me a chuckle was a folded up napkin that I found tucked away.  I figured I'd lost it years ago.  After my grandpa's death it could be tough to get her out of the house and she'd often turn down chances to go out.  One time I got over there and found this taped to the back door:
She didn't drive and I knew darn well she was home.  When she opened the door she was laughing so hard about this......she thought it was hilarious.  This was not very long before her death and I kept it folded up in my winter jacket pocket for several years.  I'm not sure when I took it out of my jacket and I thought I'd lost it but I must have tucked it in with her letters.

All in all I'm glad I found what I found but I did have a strange emotional reaction to some of it.  Has this ever happened to you?  I was going to post some of the letters but I decided against it.  My grandma was very private and I'm going to respect that when it comes to some of them.  That said, here are a couple snippets from cards regarding my schoolwork and my graduation from high school.

Man she had amazing handwriting.  It was always so impeccable.  There was a letter from 1993 that was to my sister and I but I'm keeping that one offline.  The last one was written by my grandpa in my graduation card.  They both had such good (and yet basic) advice to give...........I like to think I've made them proud. 

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