Love Letters from a Grandmother
A Gift from a Grandmother
My mother is my children's only grandparent. All of the other grandparents have long passed away - long before my husband and I were even married. Our kids do not know any other grand-figure in their life. There are other Aunts and Uncles out there as well as some neighbors who we have adopted as stand ins. But, there is only one "Grand" in our family.
She is the only one who tells them stories of her childhood. She is the only one who can pass down the wisdom of the ages. She is it. She is the only grandparent that they will ever know.
She is a part of their life, a special part. We want them to always remember her. One year, I was browsing at a bookstore and came upon this book. An idea began to form in my mind.....
The Project Begins.....
My mom is not one to give a lot of gifts. She usually just writes a check, adds a small item, and presents that to the kids. She grew up poor, so gift giving is not something that she is really used to. Also, she has a lot of grandkids now, so being creative is not her thing. My kids get too many things as it is, so her thinking is that they do not need more junk from Grandma, and money can be put away for college.
This book was a PERFECTLY GREAT idea for her and my kids.
I presented it to her in July (I figured it would take her a while to do it) and asked her if she would complete it for my kids as a Christmas present.
She LOVED the idea. Finally, a gift she could wrap her head around. She spend the next six months (yes, that long!!!) working on it. She gathered pictures, took notes, wrote her stories as rough drafts, then edited, all before she wrote down the final product in the book.
She also asked me to get her another copy so that she could make one for my brother's kids. This became her mission in life that year.
She is always telling them stories of her life. She is always comparing life now to when she grew up in Europe a long time ago. Putting her story into words was the perfect way for her to capture these stories and to make them into a memory for her grandkids.
Six Months of Work
She spent six months working on this project. She would call occasionally and update me on it. Sometimes, she would bring it over to show me. She asked what stories to put in and what to leave out. She really wanted this to be special.
Some of the things that she included in the book were:
her favorite recipes
pictures of herself as a child, teen, young woman, mother, etc...
awards she had received
memories of events in her life
She also wrote the answers out to all of the questions in the book. This is a treasure in itself because it is her handwriting. It is not printed out from a computer. It shows her handwriting and her love woven throughout the whole book.
She presented this gift to the kids at Christmas. I cannot begin to tell you how wonderful a memory in itself that was. We did not tell my brother that we were doing this, so he and my sister-in-law were amazed. My kids did not put the book down the whole day. They passed it back and forth and read it, reread it, and asked her lots of questions about the pictures, about the stories, etc.... They were as entralled with it as I had hoped that they would be.
She had packaged the book in a box, mostly for safe storage from grubby kid hands! She also threw in there some extra letters and pictures that somehow she did not find a place for in the book. This box has kept the book from getting too torn up in my house.
The project had done what I wanted it to do. It had brought us all a little closer to our mom/grandma. My kids still, years later, look through the book. They touch the pictures, they marvel at how young Grandma looked. They laugh at the stories. They smile at her wording. They have a written memory of her. Someday, when she is gone, they will still have this book and be able to recall her and how much she loved them.
I learned a lot from this project as well. I caught glimpses of her life that she had never thought to share. I saw pictures of her that she had never shown me before. Not that she had been hiding all of this information - we just never got around to talking about some aspects of her life. I knew the big details, just not all of the little ones.
If you have a Grandparent that is crafty, they can create their own book. As I said, mine was not, so a pre-made book was ideal and easy. Also, this is not just for Grandmas. Grandfathers can do this as well. Most of the books are for both sets. Ours included a section for my Dad's info.
Christmas is a while away, but if you are looking for a way to connect your kids to your parents, or even to connect yourself with your parents, think about this project. It is one of those things that takes time, energy, and a lot of love. But, in the end it will create a lasting memory that you will treasure forever.