Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Things I Wanted To Say

I love my grandma, love my relationship with her; I am the youngest grandchild. My sister and I were surprises, in a way. My mom was much older when she got married, and so my sister and I were babies in our teenage cousin's arms.

My grandparents used to come and spend two weeks at a time with us growing up. They'd come and help with the putting up of peaches and corn. They'd come and celebrate birthdays and graduations. They'd pull up in their camp trailer and park and stay.

Many times a relationship with a grandparent fades as the grandchild moves away and gets married, has kids of their own. I am glad this was not the case for me and my grandma. I went to college, George Fox, and became her neighbor. I'd walk over and visit her between classes. I even got a job serving meals in the retirement home where she lived.

She loved hearing about my life. I think it kept her feeling young. She would have me over for Sunday dinner regularly. She followed my budding romance with my now husband. She was interested in my writing. She was thrilled to hear about my first teaching job and my classroom. She came with a house warming meal when we moved into our first home. She always wanted to take me shopping for a new outfit.

It was, and still, is hard to see dementia take over her brain like a noxious weed. I hate how it steals away parts of her personality. It is almost easier now. She is so far gone that she's almost happy again, or at least resigned. I know she'd hate it if she could see herself and know this is how she aged. I guess that is the twisted mercy in this disease, the diseased do not know, at least near the end.

Recently I was asked to contribute some writing to an author's book project.

She's putting together a book filled with letters. These letters are the things we all wish we would have said.

I wasn't sure who I was going to address my letter to. I don't have people I wish I would have told certain things to, but never did. I have great parents, no evil high school boyfriends, no sibling that died too soon. But, I do have a grandma that I wish I could still tell things to and can't. I wish I could tell her all about my life now, my three little boys, our return to the family farm, my writing projects, our new church.....but, I can't.

On my last visit I brought my youngest. I chatted away and pretended she was like she used to be. I told her all about him and his developmental skills. She listened and smiled and even made somewhat appropriate comments. Still, not quite the same.

I miss her even though she is still living.

Writing for this book project was therapeutic. It put my thoughts into words. I was surprised with the direction my letter took.

Jackie Hooper has a blog where she's generating letters for her book project. Check it out, give it a try.


Sherry said...

My eyes widened when I looked at the picture and recognized your grandma as V.... (you were careful to not name her, so I won't either). I know her only to smile upon as I pass her in the hall when I visit our folks in the same facility. I feel so much more connected to her now that I know more about her and that you are her pride and joy. Thanks! I'm inspired now to write a letter to my mother, in whose letter to my aunt in the '60s explained why I was marrying Paul and not Mauri.

marilyn said...

I miss my mom too and our talks and sharing. It is sad but special what you wrote.

Rebekah said...

Paul who? Sherry, that seems like an interesting true story.