Thursday, January 15, 2009

My Letter of Gratitude

In 1979 a new grandmother entered my life. My Grandfather Oliver after being alone for a number of years remarried and thus began a new chapter on my father’s side of the family. Grandma Marj as she is known has become one of the most influential people in my life. She is one of those people that affects your life without you even realizing it. This weekend my Grandfather is turning 90 years old and we are having a “family reunion” of sorts. They asked that no gifts be given but I wanted to do something. I wanted to do something for him, but the more I have thought about it and the closer that the end comes for him the more I have been moved to do something for her. I have decided to give her a gift from the heart. A gift that has been in the making for 29 years. A gift that maybe I didn’t even realize that she gave me.

My Letter of Gratitude
Dear Grandma,
I wanted to do something really nice for you. I wanted to get you the perfect gift. I wanted to get you something that you would really treasure. I found myself tracing carefully over memories that I have from the times that we have spent together. I had many moments to search, many smiles to consider, many morning breakfasts, many evenings with cinnamon toast and sugar, and many hours over the kitchen table hearing stories and searching through picture albums filled with families near and far. I have discovered that in trying to get you the perfect gift that you have given me something that I will treasure for all my life. I want to say thank you. Thank you, for paper hats made out of newspaper. Thank you for letting my family stay with you when our house burned down. Thank you, for paying me 50cents a coffee can for the blackberries I picked. Thank you for white gravy, and for the ham chili stew. Thank you for the cookie cabinet, clean sheets each time we visited, the basement filled with cartons of empty food boxes so we could play grocery store. Thank you for the piles of scratch paper and the desks set up for playing school. Thank you for homemade bread and introducing me to marmalade jam, even though I still don’t like it, marmalade jam that is. Thank you for letting us play the piano even when you probably had a headache. Thank you for always having a clean and inviting home. Thank you for letting me come up to your house and hide when I should have been in the barn working. Thank you for taking me to church all those Sunday’s. Thank you for never saying anything bad about anyone. Thank you for never criticizing me. Thank you for all the birthday cards and money inside. Thank you for teaching me the value of listening and how to be really truthful and honest. Thank you for always being fair with all the kids. Thank you for coming to sporting events and graduation. Thank you for coming to my wedding. Thank you for sending me more cards and letters when I had my own children. Thank you for being only a phone call away with recipes that filled my home with scents of my childhood. Thank you for being the only one to tell me not to leave my husband. Thank you for telling me that not talking to my sister for 2 years was a mistake. Thank you for keeping track of everybody’s birthday and anniversary. Thank you for sometimes being the only one to remember my birthday. Thank you for thousands of other memories. Most of all I want to thank you for caring for Grandpa. Thank you for loving him so much. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for teaching me how to love. Thank you for being someone I look up to and aspire to be like. Thank you for being exactly who you are.
So I wanted to do something really nice for you, but nothing seemed like the right gift. No soap, or figurines, or flower. Nothing seemed to say just what I wanted to say. Nothing that is except this letter of gratitude. I am grateful that you were placed in my life. I have been blessed by you as others have as well. I want you to know that I think of you every time I cook a recipe I got from you, or bake a loaf of bread. I think of you when I send birthday cards to family and friends that live far away. I think of you when I pile my children in the car for church on Sunday mornings and when I pick blackberries on the side of the road in the summer. My sister told me once that I could never be like you, and she is right I can never be exactly like you. I am far too loud and opinionated and thoughtless, but I can never stop trying and I wanted you to know that your goodness and example has left a deep mark in my life, one that I will aspire to all my life. Grandma, I love you and just wanted to say THANK YOU!

And that is my gift that I am taking to my Grandfather’s birthday party on Saturday. I wanted to share it not because I am being boastful and proud (well maybe a little) but mostly because I just realized a few days ago how this woman is one of the most influential people in my life. I’m not sure how I could have missed it all these years but sometimes you can’t see what is right in front of you. And that my dear friends is the absolute truth.

Love to all!