Letters to Lillianne
An old plate with a painting of a cob of corn, husks partially peeled open, hangs above my kitchen sink. This plate was purchased by my favorite grandmother in her antique-seeking days. It hung in her kitchen, now it hangs in mine.
In the early 1970s when television stations and programs were multiplying, mothers were working, and Bill Gates hadn’t yet made his way into the halls of Lakeside School to catch his computer vision; my grandmother would wait every summer for the Greyhound Bus to arrive so we could begin our week together. My favorite summer memories were camp, the beach, and visiting grandma. It was just the two of us. Oh, my grandfather was around, but he made himself busy when I was in town so the two of us could have “girl time.”
Grandma taught me to cook, sew, ride horses and tend to their farm in Beaverton, Oregon. Television was limited to thirty minutes a day. She still had the Depression pulsing through her blood and so our big day out to the movies consisted of riding the bus into town, lunching at the department store, and catching a thirty five cent matinee to which she’d complain was too expensive.
As I hand wash my stem wear and stare at this plate, I realized my pregnant daughter will be bringing me a grand daughter in three months, or so. The combination of the past merging with the future birthed within me the idea to write my grand daughter letters and tell her about her people. I wanted her to know my grandmother through my eyes. I wanted her to fall in love with my dad who would have been the first by her crib tickling her belly and telling her how great she is. I carried these stories within me, and it would become my commitment and pleasure to put hands to computer and share history, family, and love through my fingers. And, so I began three months before her birth to send her letters. I wrote about the anticipation, her mother’s swollen belly, what it feels like to have a pregnant daughter.
I wrote her about her birth. The sounds and smells in the room and the reaction of those awaiting her arrival. I wrote about her mother’s birth and the very little I knew about mine.
And, I still write her. I remind her of her Divine Inheritance and the perfection I see within her. I tell her stories about her mother and how her mother shaped who I became. I write historical pieces, one was on the evolution of the camera in my lifetime. From my first camera and old sticky photo albums I bought with coupons from Bartell Drug Store up to day where I use my camera to take photos of books I want to remember to buy or art I want to recreate.
My daughter has decided to not open these letters and save them in a drawer until “the right time.” And she’ll know when that is.
A friend of mine hearing this story asked me to write a blog post about my process inviting other parents, aunts/uncles, grandparents, to share wisdom, stories, and love with their families. Another friend reminds me all of the time that love is in the details. I’m inviting you into this practice if you feel so called,