A Love Letter
I sort of don’t love your giving me a hyphenated first name.
I love you. And because I am not with you on your 95th birthday, I wanted you to know just how much.
Sometimes it’s the little things that stick with us, more than the big ones.
Of course you birthed me, fed me, clothed me, pushed me into Sunday School and church every week. You always loved me, even when you were chasing me down with a fly swatter when I sassed you. (Well, maybe not at that exact moment.) But here are some little memories I keep that you have likely forgotten.
• You and Daddy were out of town somewhere and I found some of your Beeman’s chewing gum and ate it. Literally. You looked for it when you got home and asked me about it and I lied. Of course, you found the wrappers on my dresser, so I was totally busted. But you didn’t get mad. You sat on the side of my bed, brushed my hair back from my face and explained how I should not take things that didn’t belong to me. And that lying was really wrong.
• When the Beatles were really a Big Deal, I remember you bought Libby a bright yellow wallet with a photo of them on it. She was so excited. I said something to you like “That’s so stupid.” You told me to be kind, that it was important to her and that was all we needed to know.
• You made clothes for me. Really cool clothes. Even when I was off to college. Clothes I wore and people asked me about. I always told them you made them.
• You just rolled your eyes when I begged you to help me plant a flower garden beyond the weeping crabapple tree – and then decided I wasn’t interested. Remember? Johnny from down the road planted it with you.
• Waking up from a nap in the summer was the best because you almost always had a bowl of fresh strawberries, still warm from the sun, waiting for me.
• On my birthday one year, we walked out to the barn where men were hanging tobacco. You didn’t laugh at me when I asked how long it took the tobacco to turn into cigarettes.
• When I went to boarding school and thought I was settled into my room with its utilitarian dresser and bare floors, you and Ruth showed up with a treasure trove of items (including a yellow smiley-face rug) to warm up the room. I kept that pink and yellow plaid little dresser-thing forever.
• When I was getting married, I know you wanted me to wear your dress and it was so beautiful and fit like a dream. But, selfishly, I had found THE dress. You just smiled and tucked your dress back in its box. I wish I had worn yours. I really do. I’ve thought about that a lot over the years.
• When Oliver was born – wow! Could anyone ever have a better Meemaw than Oliver? You kept him when I travelled overseas and smiled when I left you with pages of instructions and suggested games, blah blah. And, I suspect, just went about business as you saw best. (UPDATE: After reading this post, Oliver says that my suspicions are correct unless my instructions were to let him run loose all day and watch “Murder, She Wrote” at night.) And that time you and Aunt Ginny stayed with him – and the new pups, not yet house trained!
• When I was getting a divorce, I was afraid to tell you. I knew you would be so disappointed. Why was I afraid? All you did was love me and want to know how I was and how you could support me. Have I said yet that I love you?
• I love that you left Beattyville and built yourself a a new house in Lexington after Daddy died. I also love that you went to Spain and got yourself a little place without a phone.
• When my pups were sick and then had to be put to sleep, you didn’t ever fuss when I called you crying at midnight.
• I love how you love Kentucky basketball and yell at the television.
• I sort of don’t love your giving me a hyphenated first name.
• But your fried chicken and mashed potatoes with chicken gravy and a side of green beans. And cornbread. Enough to help me get over the first name bit.
And while I’m at it: Aunt Ginny, happy birthday to you, too! Thanks for being the best aunt ever. Even when my friends from boarding school burned holes in your bathroom rug. Coming to your house was always the best vacation. You don’t remember this, but I saw my first John Wayne movie with you at the Pikeville Drive-in.
I love and miss you both. Thanks for all your love, laughter, and support. Happy, happy, happy birthday to you. Sending hugs from the other side of the world.