Friday, January 4, 2008

I've been on an archaeological dig in my office for the past month or so in an attempt to get this space clean and organized. Oy, the papers and books and mementos and just plain crap I have to wade through! Some days I get a lot done. If need be, I can be ruthless about getting rid of useless items. Why, earlier today I even tossed a pile of old computer books I'd edited 10 years ago. (Of course, first I tore out the acknowledgements pages where the authors waxed poetic about working with me and saved them in a folder. I'm not embarrassed to admit I reread them occasionally as a ego boost.)

Other days, I unearth an envelope of photos--a six-year-old Daniel dressed up in his homemade wizard Halloween costume; the white rabbit we named Runaway Bunny after one of his favorite books, who ate a good chunk out of the dining room table leg, nibbled his way through an entire folder of important papers, and shortly afterward went to live on a farm (seriously, a real farm, not the "farm" parents use as a euphemism); cast photos of the play I was producing when I met Kevin. I can't just throw them all in a box to await their final resting place in an album, which should happen by the time I'm approximately 72, I figure. No, I have to go through them and reminisce, snort at pictures of me on bad hair days, and get maudlin over Daniel's gap-toothed grin. Needless to say, I don't get much organizing and cleaning done then.

However, I was making some progress this evening until I came across a pile of old letters and cards. Not many people write letters now, do they? Maybe that's why I've saved most of the letters I've received, especially my grandma's because she wrote exactly the way she talked. Getting a letter from her was like sitting down at her kitchen table and chatting while she shelled peas. One thing about her letters used to crack my Aunt Joan and me up, though. Grandma had a martyr streak in her, so she always managed to work in a heavy-handed hint about her children and grandchildren not visiting her lately or a description of some ailment, but she always assured us she'd get through it, thankyouJesus, and maybe we could remember her in our prayers, if we had the time? Bless her heart.

Anyway, I found this letter tonight, and I felt as though Grandma was here for a short visit. I've retyped a little of it, with her own grammar and punctuation. I'd written her a letter for her 83rd birthday in October, 1994, a few months after I moved to Indianapolis from Chicago. Here's her reply with a few comments from me:



Tues Morn

Dear Baby,

I was so surprised to get the sweet letter from you, I was real happy to get it. So glad you moved closer to your Dad & Mom, I just know they are thrilled too.

I had a very nice birthday, I did not feel like I would since I knew that none of my children would be here with me. [Subtle hint, huh? Heh.] Then I get this call from Italy with the familiar voices [I think my aunt and uncle were in Italy on vacation and called her. Or maybe Grandma was just hearing Italian voices, but ones she'd heard before--that's reassuring!] Joan and Buddy called me too and I got a lot of nice gifts. I was real happy, it's not so hard being 83, is it? Ha ha.

Honey, I hope you can read this but since I cut my hand 2 years ago, I just don't write very good (wasn't too good before).

It sounds like Daniel is some boy. How I wish I could see him. Why don't you and Daniel come down for a visit? Tell Daniel I'll cook him some peas and cornbread. Remember when he was real little, I don't think he could walk, we were at Jerry's, and I cooked him some peas and cornbread. I'm still doing most all my work at 83. However, Eddie [her third husband--Grandma was a hussy] do help a lot. If he did not help as much as he do, I could not get along as well as I do.

I think I better hang it up. I have a headache. [Ha! Love this closing.]

Let me hear,



This picture of her with Daniel, when he was about five months old (I think), is one of my favorites. She had the magic touch with babies. Give her a fussy, colicky baby, and in less than two minutes, she'd have him or her cooing and smiling angelically.