You all know that I write often about my Nanny. She and I had a very special relationship and I think of her so often, so I write of her often as well. But I have another grandmother who you should meet. One who is still here with us. And there are some things I need to say to her that I thought I’d let you “eavesdrop on”.
Dear Grandma Hall,
I’ve put off saying some things to you for a long, long time – my whole life really. I don’t do well in emotional situations and I avoid emotional conversations at all cost. I tend to cry and I hate to cry. So, here are some things you may not know…
You gave me so many things, Grandma. Things that I needed. Some things that I needed but didn’t realize at the time. Some things that I needed but really didn’t want at the time.
When I was little and would visit, you took me to the nursing home where you worked a lot. I didn’t like it there. It smelled bad. Some of the people were very sweet, but a lot of them were scary to me. You always had me go around to every room and sing for the people. I didn’t understand why I couldn’t just hide in your office and read a book. I didn’t understand that many of those people didn’t have families to visit them. I didn’t understand how important it was to have someone pay attention to them. I didn’t understand that they were lonely – even the scary ones.
But God was using that experience and you – no matter how uncomfortable and scary it was to me – to teach me not to be uncomfortable around those who are different. Because of that experience, when I was 21 and suddenly had a deaf student in my preschool class, I went home and worked myself silly to get down a few things I could say to her in sign language. I spent hours every week working out my lesson in sign. Because of that experience, when I was 28 and suddenly had a 6-year-old autistic child and an 8-year-old child with Cerebral Palsy in the church nursery where I worked, I was able to love those children and care for them even through difficult behaviors and messy diapers.
And because of all that – because of you – when I met my Mr. Fix It, and he told me almost hesitantly that he had a teenage daughter with Cerebral Palsy, I was able to smile and ask him to tell me more. He glowed as he told me all about her, and I knew that he was the one. Because of that, caring for her and loving her was easy. Because of that, I was thrilled when she was able to come live with us and I was allowed to be her caregiver. Because of that, I now have another daughter to love.
I know that it has always been difficult for you, seeing that Nanny and I had such a close relationship. I know that you’ve always compared my relationship with you to my relationship with her and felt that ours was lacking. I can’t apologize for the relationship I had with her and I don’t think it’s fair to try to compare one to the other. She was very special and her gift was nurturing children in a big way. And that grew into a friendship that went far beyond a “grandma/grandchild” relationship. Her gifts were not your gifts. You had the gifts of a pastor’s wife. You nurtured a congregation. You sang and touched hearts with your voice. You taught and encouraged and loved those God entrusted to you. And you loved those sweet and scary and lonely people at your nursing home. Those gifts are special too, more special than I realized as a child. They are the things God called you to do. It’s how God intended it to be.
I feel like our relationship is also what God intended it to be. He gave me the grandparents (on both sides) that I needed to prepare me for the life and the work that He planned for me. I’m so sorry that I haven’t been good about expressing all that you have given me. I hope that this begins to make amends for that.
I love you, Grandma!