Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Love Letters

I’d know her handwriting anywhere. There sprawled across the floor in front of me is a pile of my late Great-Grandmother’s letters that fell out of my old Bible. She had made her life speak to her loved ones from the arm of her favorite chair in her last years. One by one, I picked up the pretty pastel bits of love and memories. Her writing, the ink and all look like no time has slipped away, but it’s been a good couple of decades. She never knew my husband or met my children but her words live on.

She spoke in scriptures, poems, in quotes and in prayers. Leafing through them the thought crossed my mind that just maybe I didn’t get my love affair with reading words from university professors, but this elderly women without a day of higher education. The last time I saw her was when I parted for my junior year of university across the states to the mid-west, far away from the family nest. Reading the letters and poetry now, it’s clear to me that a degree could never take the place of this kind of wisdom and deep love of family. While she may have sporadically attended a house of worship, she whole-heartedly attended to the Holy Spirit inside her. She was clearly one of the Christ-followers.

And she didn’t just send letters, she decorated them with color, stickers and her great big God love. There were flowers, butterflies, all things nature and hearts. Picking one off the floor, I turn it over and read my way around the pink heart the words "Absence makes the heart grow fonder."

Isn’t that the truth.

She was a farmer’s wife and raised seven children. She lived the Great Depression and fed the hungry. Several of her children still live today, in a row of quaint little homes near her old property. It’s a place of nurturing and love and I don’t have to wonder why. I recall what it felt like to be in her home. My Grandmother, who lives next door and still holds my hand during visits today, celebrated her 92nd birthday last month and so I am amazingly blessed.

Upon every visit to Great Grandma’s home, I’d sit by her chair on the floor and we’d chat and inevitably I’d end up getting to pick from her finest patchwork pillows, a new treasure for my bedroom. Before I’d leave she’d have given me the run down on what or where each patch square came from: so and so’s dress, skirt or left over fabric from a blanket or such. What a collection I had-as many pillows as stuffed animals. Next a bag would be filled of special food and goodies from her old wooden pantry out in the kitchen. I some how sensed it was more than food in that bag, but her way of giving love. And then I’d say my goodbyes and wait.

Wait for the mail truck to come to our long country lane. It was then I learned the thrill of writing and receiving letters, what seems like a lost art today. I share these poems, scriptures and words of wisdom with my children now and I take them deep into my heart and recapture the memories of those moments of safety and love. My girls have become letter writers. I some how feel that I’m to continue where she left off given that I’ve now got a favorite chair, a slower pace and a whole lot of loved ones that need to know my love for them.


Ganeida said...

How precious! I had someone like that in my life too. They leave a wonderful blessing behind them.

Heather said...

What an amazing woman!

Renee said...

What a beautiful post honoring your Gr. Grandmother. She has left you an amazing legacy.What a gift to be able to share with your children.

Jan Lyn said...

Thank you. I'm a organizer, but cards and letters are one thing that I keep forever and cherish! :)

Peter Lawless said...

I know that she doesn'r really count but I remember my mother, grandmother and great Aunts and that they seemed to speak in their own code but the remark which still baffles me and she must have go it from her mother and grandmother it must have run in my Englisf family. The expression was ' There are more ways of killing donkey than feeding it strawberries'. I don't know if there was a Zen element in the family nearing 60 and having heard this for many of those years could the wise women of this site please enlighten me?
In ongoing bemusement
ps my mother made quilts, knitted, made curtains - though I still haven't pulled myself together - dresses on an old Singer treadle machine plus much, much more but I still don't understand the donkey comment.
Admitting ignorance

Jan Lyn said...

Hi Peter...
Not just lurking? My goodness you startled me! :) Wonder if someone else is lurking around here from the UK then. Wish I could think of something to write about for you all if so like where to obtain nice bookplates or such.

Can't say that I've heard your saying in "these here parts" so I sent your young friends here on the task of looking it up. Closest to it was: "Like giving a donkey strawberries" which seems to them to mean similiar to casting pearls to swine...the animals do not appreciate the human treasure of the berries, which in your case makes no sense at all if I recall correctly you don't like strawberries! So, let's throw the donkey a mango. that clarifies matters for me at least. Ah, yes, I'm sure now the women had their own code.
Nice to hear of the old Singer treadle machine and such memories. I like the pajamas on the bear best.

Anonymous said...

My beautiful sister and my beautiful great gram. Wonderful tribute Jan. Love you. J