Friday, April 8, 2016

dear mom-mom

Dear Mom-Mom,

I keep trying to think of ways to begin this letter to you, but all I can think of is, "When was the last time I wrote something to you?" 

I remember mom always had us write thank you notes when we were younger. It was common courtesy after a birthday or Christmas, a good time or a present. You gave us lots of those growing up. I guess the note thanking came from you, too. You taught mom well.

I remember her sitting down with me to help me write notes because I never knew what to say and my spelling was always atrocious. You remember that one card I sent you? I was rather proud of it because it was the first note I had written where I wasn't ashamed of my handwriting. It was on pink card stock, a whole page, because I knew pink was your favorite color and at the top I glued a photo for you. I think dad took it? We were outside on the patio for lunch. Pop-Pop was sitting in the background in the black rod iron porch chair. Chris, Mom and I are seated around the table. We were eating off of your bright yellow plastic plates - you remember the ones with the dividers? I see them at antique stores every once in awhile and they always remind me of you.

So there we are, all seated, you serving us. I think you had a blue shirt on with pink flowers, glasses on and hair curled just so around your face, flashing a mega watt smile.

That's how I remember you.

Summers day, cheeks flushed. Serving others, selfless. I can just hear your pleasant laugh, because that's exactly what it was - pleasant. Everything was pleasant about you. Everything was lovely. If ever a being embodied the meaning of the word woman most acutely, it was surely you. Never too loud, never too quiet. You had mastered the way of being present in an oddly calming fashion. I remember writing about you in 2010, when your 1942 portrait caught my attention and I realized how utterly breathtaking you were. It's wasn't your 1940's glam, though that was stunning. It was the warmth in your eyes radiating from a vintage photo.

"The second portrait was shaded almost with a pink tone, as if the person inside had been radiant and the photograph was able to capture the gleam. The woman inside had an oval face, a subtle smile with easily seen dimples on either side of her cheeks. That smile shone with something akin to the Mona Lisa, as if she knew something that you didn't. Her skin looked like porcelain, almost like if one were able to place their hand inside the portrait to touch her they would feel silk. Her dark hair was simply, yet elegantly displaying a short bob that settled on top of her shoulders. Like the man, the photo cut off and contained only a small portion of her upper body, but just enough to show that she was wearing a white, clean cut suit; something typical of the 1940's. She looked like the perfect example of what and who a lady should be. She was beautiful."

Aside from being pleasant to be around and personifying charm, you were one of the most humble people I've ever had the pleasure of knowing. Others were always more important, and you made them a priority. Whether it was taking someone a meal, donating and making clothes for the needy, participating in community events, watching grandchildren, being faithful to your husband or always having a hot meal on the table - you served others well and you did it without complain. But you also didn't crusade your good acts... that was just a way of life, that was apart of your upbringing. Others just mattered more. 

Being a lady didn't mean being silent, it meant being heard with the least words possible. It was having a quiet strength and resilience that made you dignified and resolved. It was correcting and guiding in a loving voice. It was being strong enough to temper the tides of frustration and respond with words that edified rather than demoralize. It was being able to roll up your sleeves and get dirty planting flowers, tending children and running a home whilst turning around last minute to wear pearls and red lipstick for garden parties and charity events. It meant being able to wear a million different hats in one day and still maintain your sanity. But it also meant being vulnerable, soft - the epitome of empathy and grace. It meant knowing when to let your guard down and be silly, yet understanding the appropriateness of every emotion in every situation. It meant knowing how to control your emotions and actions, and making the connection between the two. 

Being you meant setting an example for young women around you. It meant loving others without abandon. It meant being artistic and using your hands for beautiful crafts and projects. It meant being the best gift giver and always having a present each time you saw someone. It meant cooking without recipes and rather with a "pinch of this and a pinch of that". It meant an adoration for holidays and the coming together of family, but especially Christmas, which was always your favorite. It meant your tradition of cinnamon rolls and your incredible chocolate eclair cake. It meant your infectious laughter followed by a thickly southern accented, "Oh shyoot". It meant a love for classical music and the ballet. It meant staunch respect and fidelity to your husband. It meant seeing Christ as your Redeemer. It meant a love for chocolate and random stashes around the house in case you got a craving. It meant wanting desert and coffee as soon as dinner was finished. It meant planting beautiful flowers, gardens and loving spring. 

Perhaps that's why this spring is hard... It's the first one without you. I'll never go through another spring without thinking of you. I'll never see another Redbud bloom on 81 without thinking of you taking rides in the country with Pop-Pop to see the Redbud blooms. 

I hope one day I can live to be half the woman and lady that you were. And I hope that I can pass your grace to my children and grandchildren, because your legacy didn't end on Sunday, January 3rd, 2016. It will always be present as long as real women like you exist. 

Mom-Mom... it hasn't even been that long and I miss you horribly. I love you. I love you so terribly much. 

With all my bleeding heart, 
                               your granddaughter

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