My Grams has, over the many years of my life, typed me letters when passing on treasures and heirlooms as a gift. I’ve always saved them in my cedar chest that my Grandpa Howard made. As I unpacked boxes this morning in my new home and replaced my treasures into the chest once more, I came upon one that I had tucked away for a long while. I honestly couldn’t remember when exactly it was given.
As a family, we all moved a lot in life. My grandparents traveled the country as ministers and social workers, retiring as Salvation Army Officers. My dad was a pastor who was skilled in loving hurting churches or called to “fix” the broken. My aunt and uncle similarly were in ministry and social work. We didn’t have homes that were buried deep with layers of memories. They had to be carefully chosen and intentional.
Each of our homes had a “family wall” that kept us close to each other. Distance was erased with a glance at the precious memories.
As I carefully packed the chest I opened a little box. It held a letter and a small round cameo frame. Inside the velvet lining was a small oval that held my Grams favorite picture of me as a baby. Having been named Christine, being the very first grandchild, being so tiny, and eventually being the only granddaughter, I held a precious little place of my Grams heart. I was her Tinnie. I was Grandpa’s Chrissy. This is who they saw, regardless how old I was.
At times I wanted them to see me as a grown up, struggling as a teen. I wanted to be a grown woman when I had a child of my own. I wanted them to be proud of me. Often when confronted with a situation I didn’t know how to handle, I’d ask myself, “Can I sit and tell Grams this? Would she be proud of me? Will I be proud of myself” It was a reality check that would send me back to my core personhood. Essentially it forced me to see if I was being authentic or not.
I read the letter. There is no way she could have known how much Id have needed to read this right now. To hear her profession of love and pride in me, it drew tears.
As I sit now, on my bed in my new room, I stare at this picture then out the window. It’s a new year. Today begins the next book of my life. I want to write the pages that will make me proud of myself.
Lately I’ve been numb. I’ve not had a lot of good days. The last few years have been incredibly hard. Last year at this time I sat in a hospital with my son and prayed that God would heal him. His burst appendix terrified me, and I had to force myself to be strong for him when I wanted to collapse. I had to draw upon courage and strength I felt were fleeting. I didn’t feel confident in handling all the things that continued to try my strengths and to tease my weaknesses. It was a very long year.
I look out the window once more. They sky is lazy today. It’s as tired, before it even began, as I am. The hint of blue behind the clouds never quite makes it’s mind up to commit to unwrapping sunny rays for the day. It’s almost like the sun pulled the covers back up over its head and decided to sleep in.
Next to me sits another frame. It holds two pictures. One is of me a few years ago, where I attended a formal event. Next to me is my Great Great Aunt Pearl. She wears a pretty necklace. It too was given to me for safekeeping. It also included a letter in the long slender box it came in. It reads of a woman who’s heart knew no bounds, but was also strong and solidly rooted in her faith.
I want to dig into myself, into family, into faith, and to find my core. Aunt Pearl was an incredible and strong woman. I want to be exactly that. Strong, incredibly full of love and grace, and above all to be confident and sure of exactly who I am and whose I am.
In one week I will have flown back to Indiana and will ride a transport that will bring my Grams to be with me in Texas. We get a road trip! I could not be beginning this year more different than last year, and I couldn’t be more happy about that if I tried. ❤️
2017, I welcome you into my home. Let’s do great things together in the coming year.