At the beginning of every month, I write a letter to my grandmother. I buy fun cards and fill all the white space with what is happening in my world. I usually bring my kids with me when I mail it. We all kiss the envelope before one of us puts it in the mailbox. It is important to me that they know that I write to their Great Grammie. We don’t often get to see her, so having them be part of this very personal process helps us all keep this lovely lady in our thoughts. Sometimes I encourage them to create a card for me to write in. Other times they want to “write” their own notes. (This is how I discovered my son at age three could write his own initials…#momwin)
I love seeing my Gram. When I could visit in person, she would ask pointed, honest questions about my life and I would honestly and seriously answer her. Then she’d make a sarcastic crack and we’d laugh the seriousness away. She’d usually end our conversations with a humble piece of advice. It was a rare and special interaction. One I don’t quite have with anyone else. The quickly passing years have taken a toll on her hearing, so conversational interactions have become fewer and farther between. This makes letter writing that much more critical, meaningful, and simultaneously heart wrenching. My letters are one-sided. There is often no reply. I miss the wise cracks, self-deprecating humor, and simple, yet impactful words of wisdom. That is a void for which I have yet to find solace.
But I do know that she loves receiving my cards. Every so often, when I am able to visit, I come across her archive of the years of letters I have sent her. She has kept every single one.
On a totally self-serving note, letter writing is a welcome outlet for me to share my successes and struggles and to physically work through challenges I face as a working mother, entrepreneur, and wife, among other roles. Though, I often wonder how redundant I am in my writing. What I have continued to complain about (“work-life balance”…ugh). How whiny or immature I may sound (see previous parentheses). Then I wonder if she notices…or cares. Or if it just makes her laugh. Ultimately, I know it matters more to her that I write. I know she will love every word because I took the time to write them down exclusively for her. I hope my children realize how valuable that can be, too. Using words in a meaningful, compelling way to make a specific person feel something. To create and share an intimate experience.
While my written words will never replace our conversations, they are now a keystone in our relationship. And I intend to not only continue writing, but to live my life so that I have compelling letters to draft. Because in my head, I can hear my grandmother in her infinite wisdom (and cute Boston accent), “Kimberly, life is short. Enjoy it, do what you love, enjoy your beautiful, happy family, and keep moving forward.” Thanks, Gram. Stay tuned for how I am progressing in my next letter.