Friday, May 21, 2010

thank you notes

my udall grandparents and my sister and i circa 1985
one thing my grama ALWAYS taught me was to write thank you notes. i try to. i'm not always the best at it, but i was always good at writing them to her. so when i was asked to speak at her funeral, i decided one last thank you note was in order. if you would like, i'm sharing it with you to help you understand the wonderful wonderful woman my grama was, and just a little bit of the many things she taught me.

Dear Grama,

How are you? I imagine you are very happy right now, reunited with your loving Addison, Noel, dear parents, brothers and other family. I am so happy for you. But I will miss you, and I wanted to take this time to write you a thank you letter. There are so many things I am so grateful to you for, so in no particular order, here are just a few that I think all of us grandchildren are grateful to you for.

First of all, thank you Grama for being such a wonderful mother to my mother. Thank you for raising her in kindness and love and supporting her in whatever she wanted to do. You taught her well because she raised my sisters and I the same way.

Thank you Grama for being so present in my life, even when you lived far away. You did so many thoughtful things to show us how much you loved us. I remember when I was little Louisa and I always kept an eye out for ‘the package man’ in his big brown truck who often came bearing boxes addressed specifically to us that contained all sorts of treasures like cassette tapes with recordings of you reading us stories like “Blueberries for Sal”- I can still hear your voice saying “Kerplink, kurplank, kurplunk!”, you always sent something special like a new stuffed animal, or a pretty bow for my hair, holiday decorations, and of course, no package was complete without some See’s candy sticks. No holiday or special day came without a card from you, and as I got older you wrote me individual letters with details about your life and wanting to know about mine. In college you always sent newspaper clippings you thought I’d like. I always knew you were thinking of me, and I always felt your presence in my life.

Thank you Grama for so many wonderful visits to your house. My childhood is filled with memories of summers in Merced with other Udall cousins. The cookie jar was always stocked with iced oatmeal cookies, the pool was ready and waiting, and you always had a host of fun activities planned and you were never too busy for a game of Gin Rummy, Hearts, or a spontaneous Matinee movie. Being at Grama’s house was always so wonderful and I enjoyed so many happy times there. Some of my favorite memories are of getting up early and taking walks along Bear Creek with you and Grampa while it was still foggy, I loved getting to be a part of that special time of day with you and Grampa. I also have a lot of memories watching Mystery Theater or Masterpiece Theater on your waterbed, playing games around the dining room table, or going along on shopping trips to Long’s with you. I loved helping you in the kitchen and getting things out of the back pantry for you. Wherever you lived, your home was a wonderful place for all of us grandkids where we felt welcome and loved.

Thank you Grama for teaching me that homemaking is not just keeping your house clean, but is an expression of your love for your family and friends, and a calling as a steward over a home- a space that is as holy as the temple. I remember going to your house and each day you would give us grandkids four quarters. Each time you found something of ours lying around, or if we left our bed unmade you would take a quarter from us. I learned to keep my stuff neat, and came home with pockets sagging with quarters. I never make my bed or change my sheets without thinking of you Grama and the loving instruction you gave me of tucking in corners, folding fitted sheets, and arranging the pillows just so. You taught me tips on loading the dishwasher, getting out stains, and still today I cannot set a table and not put the silverware in their proper places- in fact it bothers me to sit down at a table with the fork in the wrong spot! But beyond the ‘how to’ of homemaking, you also made things special with little garnishes, snacks by the poolside, and a feeling of love that accompanied all your household duties. I never sensed resentment or a feeling of obligation, but rather delight and love in taking care of your home and family.

Thank you Grandma for teaching me to turn the other cheek and to love my enemies. I remember one summer I was staying with you for a month while Louisa was in Japan. I had made friends with the girls my age in the ward, but there were two who were being mean to me, and had spread some unkind rumors about me. Rather than allowing me to get angry or hurt, or being angry yourself, you sat me down and explained that those girls probably just wanted to be my friend but didn’t know how to. And then you did just the right thing Grama, you threw a party! You invited all those girls over for a big sleepover and pool party and made it so special with a big ice cream sundae bar and a fun games to play. We had such a good time, and spent the rest of my visit in Merced all best friends. You were so good at making people feel comfortable and helping build friendships instead of enemies.

Thank you Grama for always loving me even when we didn’t agree. Once I grew out of my pink ruffly stage in childhood, we stopped seeing eye to eye in regards to fashion and personal grooming. I remember you took me shopping before I left for college and you thought the long black pleated skirt from the ‘Mrs. Traditional’ section of JC Penny was just right . . .. and I did not. You didn’t fight or insist, and bought me the skirt that I liked (and you did not) but never made me feel bad or loved me any less. You have always supported me in whatever I’ve done and I know you always love me.

Thank you Grama for teaching me to love and adopt more family. In Merced Algae and her family were like our family, and the Hmongs were our other cousins. You always adopted those who needed a home and taught me to love everyone the same. Even during the last few years when I lived with you, you had adopted a Sister Missionary you’d met volunteering at the MTC and you wrote her on her mission and sent her cards and gifts. Her family was not supportive of her mission, and your love for her was such a blessing to her. You were also willing to share your family with those who had none. You graciously shared us grandkids with your neighbors Jackie and Chuck who were not able to have children. You were never jealous of the love we had for our second Grandparents, but were happy to share.

Grama, thank you for telling me the story of how you and Grandpa met so many times. I loved hearing it, because each and every time you told it (which was a lot in the end there) your eyes lit up and I could feel how much love you had for your Addison. Your unending devotion to him in all times, good and bad, sickness and health, taught me what true love is. You always told me to wait for that special someone who makes me feel the way you felt about Grandpa . . . I’m still waiting, and I’m hoping now your on the other side you can speed things up for me and the other single grandkids!

Thank you Grama for teaching me to be childlike. You were always delighting in small and simple things. You laughed easily, and always expressed wonder at the world around you. I remember one late summer night you loaded all of us grandkids in your car and drove far enough out of town to see a lunar eclipse that was happening. You were so excited! During the last two years my favorite times we shared were the drives I would take you on to see the fall leaves, or spring flowers, or frozen Utah Lake. I loved hearing your exclamations of delight at the beauty of the earth.

And last, but certainly not least Grandma, thank you for being a woman of faith. Your constant faith and dedication to the Gospel and church have had a lasting impact on my life. I cherish the conversations we had in which you expressed your faith, and your assurance that you would be reunited with Grampa. I remember when I received my endowment, sitting in the Celestial room for the first time with you and my parents, and there was an empty chair near us. You and my dad remarked that Grandpa was there. I’m grateful you were there to share that special day with me, and that you always valued your covenants. I am so happy your faith has been rewarded and you are back with Grampa. I’ll miss you, but I know I will see you again.

Thank you Grandma for everything, you will live on in all of our hearts and actions as we love others how you did, as we set our tables with love, and as we embrace the world around us with delight and wonder.




NEC said...

This is so beautiful. It makes me want to write a letter to my Great Aunt Elsie, who is still with us, and thank her for what she has taught me. I love this.

Eliza said...

Thanks for posting this. I called my mom the day of your grandma's funeral and she'd told me about your thank you note...I was so sad that I couldn't be there to hear you read it, so you can imagine my delight when I saw that you'd posted it. It really is a wonderful tribute to your dear grandmother. Thank you for letting all of us read it.

Jenny said...

Beautiful, Zina!