Posts Tagged ‘family’

Dear Grandparents

February 11, 2010

Dear Grandparents,

“Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” I’ve heard it all my life. As a young child, I saw only absurdity in such a statement. As a young woman, experiencing lost love; bittersweet was the taste of absence. Now, as a grandmother with grandchildren miles away, I find the cliché to be simply untrue. Quite frankly, absence rips your heart out when you drive off into the sunset— with fading images of grandchildren waving in your rearview mirror. My heart could not be any fonder.

“Stop whining,” you say. Yes, I have learned to deal with absence. And yes, I continue to make the best of my sad affairs, living so many miles away from my grandchildren. But, emerging from this awful distance is a new avocation—a peculiar habit. I write letters to my grandchildren—the good old-fashioned kind.

Writing letters is not meant to replace other forms of casual communication. It is a form of connection that is seeded in the very core of tradition: It is truly old-fashioned stuff. It is a way of not only connecting to your reader, but giving the reader insight into your “head and your heart,” as Thomas Jefferson would say.

Charmingly traditional and truly a lost art, a letter can be held in the hand, folded into special shapes that fit into special drawers or notebooks; it can be tucked away, only to be retrieved and visited again and again. A letter reflects the attitude and temperament of the writer. It reveals volumes about the writer’s sentiments, values, and logic. If eyes are the window to one’s soul, a letter is the door to one’s heart.

I found some old family letters dating back to the 1800s, and now, when faces stare back at me from dusty, old albums, I look at them and I connect my ancestors to the letter. And, I know these people. I feel like I know their head and their heart thanks to their letters.

Because of the very nature of letter writing— the process of penmanship (keyboarding), self-editing, and even slogging down to the post office—it is understood that correspondence necessitates effort, even to a young child. I wonder if this is the reason that children express gratitude, appreciation, and a feeling of importance upon receiving a letter. I think a child senses that a letter is specific … for him.

Whenever a child begins correspondence, he becomes a participant in the give and take of a relationship. He learns to be patient and thoughtful, and he learns the value of camaraderie. Once a child is integrated into a writing relationship, he learns to be generous with his heart and his mind.

For this reason, I am urging grandparents, and even aunts and uncles, and yes, all of you, to bring back this old tradition of writing letters. How wonderful it would be if children had a relative who wrote to them regularly because the child could learn so much from the writer. Letters can be models for writing techniques and examples and of how to write with one’s own voice.

Children would also gain emotionally from corresponding with a caring, loving grandparent (or elder) who shares their life in letters. Correspondence helps children gain confidence because they get a chance to practice writing skills in a safe venue. They are not being graded, so they become more creative. And then, they are motivated to transfer the use of these skills to school work. Most of all, children feel important when someone loves them and cares enough to send them letters. Corresponding with children means that adults, too, will hone the core values of give and take, and also enjoy the benefits of bonding in a unique and endearing manner. My experience is that writing letters to my grandchildren is good for my soul, and it is even better for my fond heart.

So, Grandparents (and aunts and uncles), here’s a good idea: If your grandchildren live far away, dig into your supply of colored pencils, pens, and stationery. Begin an epistolary relationship with your grandchildren. Your fond heart will beat with delight, and the misfortune of absence will begin to fade away into the sunset.

Yours truly,

Curly Grandma

Who is Curly Grandma? She is a real grandmother. When her first grandchild, Megan was around two-years-old, Megan was trying to distinguish between her two grandmothers. Mommy tried to help out by saying something like, “…Grandma with the curly hair…” Well, that solved the problem for Megan; Curly Grandma was the name.  Six more grandchildren came along, and they all call her “Curly Grandma.”

Visit Curly Grandma at her website www.curlygrandma.com and learn all about writing letters to grandchildren. On her site, get lots of information and free stationery. And you can even buy her book Curly Grandma’s Letters: Writing to Kids and Capturing Your Autobiography (Tate Publishing; available on Amazon.com). This blog and illustrations are not to be copied or reproduced without permission from Anita Bryce.

Letter to my grandchild: Footprints on my heart

February 7, 2010

Letter to my granddaughter:

Dearest Beloved, 8-10-01

Hello! HELLO! I miss you!
I do so miss you!
You have been in my thoughts, almost as persistent as a child at a mother’s skirt! You seem to follow me throughout my daily routines. I suppose that is what happens to one who has moved away. I can only guess I have buyer’s remorse. (Mommy can explain that to you better.)

Now, I think I’ll share a thought with you.
I will tell you a story about a Grandmother’s very special experience. This story will relate to you just how important the tiniest little things in life can affect one’s heart and soul (if one is a sentimental old grandmother). You see, Beloved, you will find that you have been going through life, living your life and just doing your everyday things, and yet, Beloved, you have not even been aware that each of your little movements has been devotedly recorded on your grandmother’s heart.

Most stories begin with “Once upon a time”. However, this begins in a different manner, like this:

Sometime ago, approximately two and a half years ago, there was a little granddaughter who came over to visit me … I mean to visit her grandmother. She had a wonderful time. She played with some little toys that once belonged to her mommy. She played cards (I believe it might have been OLD MAID and GO FISH. She played some kind of checkers, or perhaps it was Tic-Tac-Toe. She made cookies with her grandmother. She even enjoyed eating peanut-butter-and-jelly and cereal for breakfast, lunch, and supper. I believe she may even have gone grocery shopping with her grandmother beforehand to pick out the cereal and the jelly. Then, evening fell. Well, after a full day of playing, the granddaughter was certainly ready for a bath. So, as the grandmother drew the water, the granddaughter stepped into the tub ….

We must stop here for just a moment. You see, you must understand that this house of grandmother’s was 28 years old. So, many things in the house were very old. Most specifically, the tub was this old. Well, in order to keep such an old tub clean, one must scour it (which means to scrub). When one scours a tub, the tub becomes very porous, that means it will soak up anything that gets on it. So, if you touch a freshly scoured tub with mud or grease, the mud or grease will soak into the tub and stain it. Now, we can return to our story.

Now, the granddaughter’s feet were quite greasy and dirty from running around barefoot all day long, because as you know grandmothers don’t make granddaughters wear shoes if they don’t want to. As the granddaughter stepped into the tub, her little 4-year-old foot left the most perfect footprint in the tub. The print of the toes was perfect. The print was a perfect picture of a perfect foot.

The granddaughter didn’t even notice the footprint. But, the grandmother saw the footprint at that very moment. It was as if she felt the footprint press right down on her own heart. You would think she would clean it up immediately. But, no, she fell in love with that silly little footprint and secretly, she hoped it would never go away, even after a good cleaning. Do you know that it never went away, even after 100 cleanings!

Very often, the grandmother would look into that tub and remember that wonderful visit from her granddaughter. That footprint looked just like a footprint to everybody else, but it was a reminder of a very special day for the grandmother.

Well, after a few more years, it was time for the grandmother to sell her house. She cleaned the house from top to bottom, spotlessly. And, she even cleaned the tub. But still, the footprint stubbornly remained. When the house was sold, and the grandmother drove away from her house for the last time, there was only one very special thing she could not take with her. She could not take her granddaughter’s footprint with her, and that made her so very sad. As she was driving away, a tear fell on her cheeks. But feeling sad was not something this grandmother liked. So, she had an idea. She went through all her pictures of her granddaughter, and she found a shirt that she was wearing on the day the granddaughter was born. And, do you know that shirt had a newborn footprint of the granddaughter when she was just born? It even had a date on it. It was 4-24-94.

Well, Beloved, as I was saying at the beginning of this letter, we may not know it, but even the smallest of things we do will leave footprints on someone’s heart. So, let’s continue to tread lightly throughout our life, and let’s leave the softest of footprints wherever we might go. For surely, someone, somewhere, will feel each step.

I must go now, and get busy on my laundry. For it doesn’t go away, no matter how much I ignore it. I shall write again soon, when my laundry is done and my belly is full of peanut-butter sandwiches, and I have had many days to catch up on STUFF.

I Love you, and I am thinking of you always,

Curly Grandma

Who is Curly Grandma? She is a real grandma with seven grandchildren.  Her name came from her first grandchild, Megan, who learned to distinguish her two grannies with “adjectives”. Visit Curly Grandma at her website www.curlygrandma.com and learn all about writing letters to grandchildren. You can even buy her book Curly Grandma’s Letters: Writing to Kids and Capturing Your Autobiography (Tate Publishing) on her site. This blog and illustration may not be copied or reproduced without permission from Anita Bryce.