Thursday, March 6, 2008

Letter to My Dead Grandmother

Dear Catherine,

Hi.  My name is Jamie.  I am your granddaughter.  You probably already knew that, but unfortunately we never had the chance to meet.  So I thought I'd write to you and tell you about some of the things I wish you could have known.

In 1958 a child was born, your child.  She was a beautiful little girl.  You probably saw her, but maybe only briefly before she was whisked away to be adopted.  You were probably even told not to bond with her, after all, if you wouldn't be keeping her, then why bother going through the heartache.  Maybe they told you that you should go on living as if it never happened.  You were probably told to forget about her, to go on with your life.  But I bet you never did.  You carried that baby.  And you were faced with some tough decisions, for in the 1950's young, pregnant, unwed women must not have been looked upon very highly.

But I want you to know that I look upon you with great compassion and admiration.  Things have changed.  And whatever decisions led you to give up that baby, I want you to know that I am proud of you.  I am proud of your strength and courage.  And you would be proud of the daughter that was born unto you.  I am.  She is my mother.

Your daughter, my mother was nourished by your heart, your spirit, and your strength.  Your daughter went on to be an extremely strong and independent woman.  Your daughter may never have had the opportunity to meet you, because you were taken away in a car accident when my mother was only 14.  But somehow I think you have been with her all along.  And if you were with her, then you are with me.  Yes, we are bound by DNA, but I think there is more to it than that.

At 17, your daughter became pregnant, with me.  Times were only slightly different than your own pregnancy.  Your daughter grew up in a strict, Catholic adoptive home.  She was frowned upon, and probably even encouraged to give me up, as you did.  But my mother made a brave choice as well.  Did you guide her in this decision?  Did the pain of giving up your own baby spill from the Heavens and lead her to keep me?  I'm so thankful that she did.

Because your daughter, my mother, carries your strength.  She was young, but she has been selfless and generous with her love.  When there was little food, guess who went without?  When there were not enough bedrooms, guess who slept in the living room?  When there was a holiday, guess who came through?  My mother has more than your eyes... she has your generous heart. 

Because of you, there is her.

Because of you, she went on to have me. 

Then she had twin boys.  Then, later, she had another boy.

Because of you, there is her.  Because of her, there is me.  Because of me there are my children.
Thank you Catherine.  I honor you.  I honor your memory.  I carry you, and now so too do my own children.  Please continue to watch over us Grandma.  

Love,
jamie

24 comments:

Misty said...

Touching, compelling, brave, and loving ALL in one post.

Kathryn said...

I can hardly type through my tears. That was precious. What a gorgeous heartfelt tribute. Just lovely.

Amy said...

this letter is so moving. i, too became emotional. it is simply beautiful a testament to two fine woman.

katydidnot said...

that is fantastic use of words. they couldn't have been better used.

katydidnot said...

and also? oof. you're children are beautiful.

OHmommy said...

Why must you make me cry?

It was so beautiful. All of it. Awww.... the sweetest letter. :)

Mary said...

Jamie, that is an absolutely beautiful letter to your grandmother. She definitely is watching over :)
And look at what a beautiful job your mom has done! Did you share this with her?

Jen said...

Aw. I love this. Thanks for sharing. It was beautiful! (You ladies all look so much alike!)

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I'm too late to the party for anything that hasn't been said. So, ditto what they all said.

And thanks to Cheri for sending me your way.

Lindsey said...

Ok...so please excuse while I wipe the tears from my eyes. How sweet! How precious! How honest! Thank you for being so candid.

What an adorable family!

Trish said...

I can't speak/type right now. I am crying like I have never cried before. This was a total surprise! Here I was just minding my own business, just popping over for a little taste of my daughter and grandkids and found this. THIS. WOW.

jamie, just jamie. You are not a JUST jamie. You are the most amazing woman I have ever known or are ever likely to know. I love you and all of "our" kids. Geez. I can't type right now.

Cheri said...

Oh jamie~

I figured out that yo mama is the most beautiful soul on the planet shortly after I first met her. The first day I met her we bent out heads together and gabbed like we knew each other forever. The light that beams from Henry's eyes is her light, his light, your light, that light. And then comes you. Now I get to bask in your light, the light the comes from the words of your posts, the light that comes from your heart and passes through your fingertips as they caress the keyboard and shape far-reaching messages. Catherine is smiling, she's laughing, she's crying tears of joy. So am I. I can barely see the dang screen.

Trish said...

OK There it is. Cheri is a much better writer than me. That says it.That is YOU! She says you are a miracle child. Like a daughter Jesus. have to agree.

Mom

Trish said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
RJTrue said...

OMG. I am sitting here at work with tears in my eyes.

That was beautiful. Incredibly. I have chills.

Wow ... I mean, wow.

Misty said...

Jamie.... EVERY thing is funny to me this morning... EVERY thing, and your comments about made me DIE. When you wrote "I hope I can live through your bun in the oven...." I was like "What! Now she's trying to tell me how rotten I'll be when I pregnant??" ..... Rolling on the floor laughing..... and I did get your next comment, which made it EVEN funnier.... If only you knew how rotten I could be... for the ENTIRE 40 weeks. Whoooweeeee!

Kellan said...

Oh, Jamie - this was a beautiful tribute to your grandmother - beautiful!! You are as special as she was and you have a beautiful mother and beautiful children. You are beautiful too.

Have a good weekend and thanks for coming by and thanks for your prayers for our sweet baby. Take care and I'll see you soon. Kellan

Cecily R said...

That was amazing. And moving. YOU are amazing. I'm sure there is some of Catherine in you, and that she is proud to have you as a grand daughter.

Andi said...

I enjoyed reading a comment that you posted on Mother May I, so I was just curious about your blog...and when I arrived, I found THIS. So many people have already commented on the beauty of this tribute, but I too was moved to tears. What an amazing letter.
I was a 17 year old, unwed mother in 1989. My daughter is 18 now. My father's mother, my grandmother, had him in 1938 at 16. We did not share a special bond because of this; she was angry at me for letting it happen. We never talked about the situation that we shared, but I always wondered how honestly difficult her life must have been. No one knows who my real grandfather was, and she died with that secret. But, I totally get your thankfulness! I am blessed with the most amazing parents, and because of my grandmother, I have my dad.
Thank you for sharing that letter. You may not have thought strangers would read it, and I apologize for lurking around, but I had to let you know how amazingly special that is...

My Ice Cream Diary said...

Wow seems to trite to say, but what else can I say? This is beautiful and I'm sure it has been read and cherished by the woman for whom it was written. If only more women could get forgiveness and understanding like this for the choices they made in their past.

Chevy said...

beautiful, Jamie. You are also a brave, honest soul.

baby~amore' said...

what a beautiful heart warming though bittersweet story.
I tribute to three fine women.

Anonymous said...

That was purely beautilful and it spoke to my heart....I have to attend my grandmother's funeral this weekend and the grandchildren decided to each write her a letter and put it with her as we bury her....Thanks for the inspiration, I appreciate that :)

Ryanbas

judimoo7 said...

I read your letter to your grandmother and I am just sobbing. It's poetry and beautiful.

Judy