I wrote this letter on my computer first, then by hand, with tears flowing down my eyes. It was the morning of the memorial service, and I was at my hometown Starbucks. I then read it aloud, as a part of the family remembrance. It went like this:
This Christmas, before we got to open presents, you and I sat on the couch in my parent’s living room. I was showing you the picture book I had made mom, and you seemed so happy to see all the pictures of kiddo and how big he’s gotten in just the past twelve months. And then you stopped on a page, looked up at me and said excitedly, “oh, you put these in here!” Three pictures, from last spring, when you came to visit for a few minutes on your way to Olympia. There was one of grandpa swinging kiddo in the air, the two of you throwing him a ball, and then there’s the selfie of the two of us. You’re not wearing glasses, you had just had that surgery and could see as good as anyone. I could tell you were moved by this page, a remembrance of that sunny Seattle day we had the four of us. And so I asked, “grams, do you want me to make YOU a book?” Too selfless to ever ask outright, I could tell you were touched by the mere thought.
When I went home and started working on it. The file on my computer reads, “grandma birthday book.” You always remembered my birthday, and this year I vowed to do something special for you. I told you all of this in our quiet moments in the hospital. Holding your warm hand, listening to the machine breathe for you, I said, “grams, I’m making you a book. And in it are pictures. And you can look at them and get strong again, so we can make more memories.”
For each photos I have, there are a thousand more memories with the pictures left untaken. Things like: cheesies, funny elbows, the smell of that tennis court where I’d watch you and Terry practice. There’s cardamom bread, and Christmas fudge, and pineapple/orange/lemonade. There games of sneaking up on you in the kitchen, and that “oh,” pretend surprise that delighted us as kids. Lasagna. The yellow footstool I laid on as a baby. Holding your hand down that red carpeted hallway on the cruise in the Caribbean. I know I was only 18 months old, but I remember even that vividly. You were always there. Always in the picture, even when the picture is only in my mind.
In the six months before you died you gave me a hard time for my paparazzi style photography at family functions, saying, “why do you take so many pictures.” And in my equally flippant reply, I would say, “because grams, at your funeral, people will want to see pictures.”
When I got the text that you had passed, peacefully, surrounded by your family, I was sorry I couldn’t be there and sad for all the future moments you won’t get to be a part of. And then kiddo came around the corner, saw me crying, and came up to me to comfort me. He put his hand on my knee and said, “it’s okay mommy, great-grammy feels better now.”
I love you so much grams, you were always my best friend over 67. I’m sorry for the funeral jokes, I’m sorry you’re not here to see your birthday book, but I’m not sorry I took any of these pictures. I will treasure them and the memories forever.