Dear Grammie

Friday, October 15, 2010

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October 14th, 2010

Dear Grammie,
Although we will both remember the days that we were told "it's cancer" very vividly and it's not a welcoming memory, we rejoice and celebrate today because we are two out of the 11 million cancer survivors who celebrate another birthday this year! And because of that there are so many other vivid memories that I do welcome and want to share today as we celebrate you and what this day not only means to your daughters, granddaughters and great-granddaughters.

I'm not sure if you and Grampie know how much I remember of my childhood or if I have even ever told you how special my memories of growing up with you are. But after today I think you will have a pretty good idea as I try to put into words what my heart, soul and memory recall.

During some typical growing up and fighting for my independence at every age and every level of maturity, I remember complaining about living in the country. Pittsfield felt like a city compared to home and because of my defiant nature as an adolescent and oh yes, something I still struggle with as an adult, I would find myself wanting the exact opposite of what I had or wanting to be in the opposite place that I was and that was anywhere but at home with my parents or in the country where my friends seemed so far away. I sure do wish there were a way to appreciate things as children that we learn to appreciate as adults because it saddens me to think that I even thought I would have been happier anywhere but where I was. I was right where God had placed me, at the bottom of the hill, with only a wide open field that laid between my bedroom window and my grandparents door. Psalm 23 begins to describe how my thoughts have matured yet the view from my childhood bedroom window remains the same when I reflect back..."The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul." He certainly shows me how amazing He is when I recall the green pastures of my childhood and the quiet waters that always restored my soul as a child and how he uses those memories to restore my soul even now.

I remember sitting on my bed looking out the window just taking in the scenery. If I could draw beyond a stick figure my memory alone would be able to paint a mural of immense detail of your house, the field, the golf course, the ponds, the lake, the woodpiles, the willow tree, the golfers and the neighbors. And if that picture could be heard, people would hear the sounds of Grampie's tractor starting in unison with the first bird's chirping of the day, the chainsaw cutting the wood that kept you warm and those of us who visited, scorching hot all winter long. You would hear the big mower going around and around the field creating the sweetest smell of fresh grass and earth, and our neighbor Jay with the same thought in mind as he created his own beautiful landscape across the way. There would be sounds of occasional cars whizzing by, random golf balls bouncing off the pavement or once in a great while shattering a window, the clanging of pins being put back followed by voices of men who just got a birdie or of the women cackling over their own scorecards. At night it would be the sounds of crickets and frogs croaking so loudly that it became a bedtime lullaby you couldn't fall asleep without.

Although I am 31 years old now and moved away from the country life, I still look out my bedroom window. Except I am not seeing my suburban back yard. I see what I saw for 18 years because it is the view that fills me with peace and God "lays me down in green pastures and leads me beside quiet waters and restores my soul."

There are some other memories that don't necessarily create a picture but a feeling. The feeling of comfort and security in the midst of adolescent changing. While life as a child can internally feel like it is moving so fast and chaotically changing, externally I was comforted by the same sounds, the same people and the same view everyday for 18 years. Every morning I would wake to the same sounds of Grampie's hard work and dedication. And although as a teenager it could be quite annoying to wake every morning, in the summer no less, at 6am to the sounds of tractors, chainsaws and lawnmowers, yet once I was beyond the first 10 minutes of feeling annoyed, that feeling was replaced with respect for a man who worked so hard and actually got up with the birds on his own to do work, rather than sleep in and waste the day~now I know where I get it from because I have never been able to sleep in past 7am and I would rather get up and start the day than spend it in bed wishing later I had gotten up sooner to do the things I am called to do.  And there was the feeling of comfort knowing that it was always the same person and the same sounds that I would wake to each day.  I also remember noon time being another part of the day when the same person at the same time would walk down the driveway to get the mail.  You each had your daily routines and it is simply inspiring to look back on now as an adult who actually craves these and appreciates these tedious chores that I watched you and Grampie do each and every day because it reminds me of the childhood I was fortunate to have and the life I am blessed to still be living. 

Although I started many days off thinking I couldn't wait to move out of the country and see other places and meet other people, I can't really express how much I actually saw, the numerous people I actually met, and the amazing feelings I experienced as a child in a small town that most have never even heard of.  I remember the moments of simple and pure excitement of just kicking of my shoes and running through the field as soon as Grampie had parked the tractor just so I could feel the fresh mowed grass between my toes.  And I recall how it felt to walk out my door and through the field as though I was in one world then as soon as I crossed the dirt driveway to the other side of the house I was in another world.

I remember the feeling of knowing what to expect when I opened the door to your kitchen many mornings. There you would be just as I knew you would, in your robe and slippers, cash box and keys in hand and the smell of coffee already brewed.  And Grampie often standing there just to say hello and smile because someone else was finally awake to speak to or smile at...and he always greeted me with a smile never knowing that I had been annoyed with him an hour ago for waking me once again with his noisy machines;-) But once I walked through your door none of those annoying feelings mattered or lingered.  They were immediately replaced with warmth and love and anticipation of what the end of the day would bring.  And even though it usually brought the same people to play the same game, and the same order of a drink, steamed hot dog and chips or crackers, it gave me a feeling of thankfulness because while other kids my age were working for strangers or just letting their parents pay their way I was working for and helping my family while learning a lot about people and life in the process.  I remember rushing to unlock the clubhouse doors,  to make a pot of coffee and get the register running and the door unlocked before the first regular golfer came to start their day just as they had the day before.  I couldn't quite appreciate why people wanted to do the same thing from sun up to sundown, day after day, but when I look back, especially after the last two years, and think how wonderful it is to just be able to do the anything in a day, I begin to understand the simple joy and contentment of doing the same thing everyday.  It's an amazing reminder of where I have been, where I am now and where I look forward to being.

So those are just some of my memories of what I felt and what I saw.  But a few of my most cherished memories are a couple of things that I did with you.  When I think about some of our times together I remember lots of shopping.  And although it was usually in Nannie's Lincoln I vividly recall many trips to Unity in the yellow and blue Buick. I don't think you ever knew it but I had that car on two wheels one day when I had gotten my permit. I was driving with mom one day as I took the corner at Hawthorne Park a little too fast.  If you asked her, she would tell you that is one memory you will be thankful to not have been a part of;-) But back to the shopping.  I don't recall much of anything that was ever bought, however I do recall that you always got dressed up in these really nice suits or coordinating outfits when we would go shopping.  I would  put on my shopping clothes, walk through the field and wait for Nannie to arrive in the Lincoln. I always thought it funny that she would get into the passenger seat and you would drive and then later on when Aunt Tammy or Aunt Susie would go, you would move to the passenger seat and one of them would drive.  I never questioned why, I guess I just thought it was the law or something, that the youngest one with the license had to drive.  Anyhow, I remember always falling asleep between the end of your driveway and the parking lot of Zayre's, Ames or Riches.  And not because I was bored of yet another shopping trip with my grandmother and great grandmother, but because there was something about Nannie's Lincoln that just put me right to sleep and I am sure the comfort of being with two special women in my life had something to do with it, too:-)  Like I said, I don't recall what we ever bought, but that I am sure I always came home with something and since you liked to get dressed up so nice to go shopping  I might assume you probably came home with new outfits for the next shopping trip as though it was going to be a long time before we took another one.  Ya, two days without shopping was a long time. LOL.  (That is laugh out loud or lots of laughs depending on who you ask in case you were wondering).  And shopping was not all that I looked forward to because the day was not over until we sat down at the House of Pancakes and had a lobster roll with pickles, chips and a coke, well, yours might have been a Tab;-)  And on the trips when Nannie didn't go we went to Belanger's for the most delicious Seafood Salad Sandwich, french fries and Coke...oh the memories that lead from one to another.  Because as I am recalling the shopping trips that consisted of you looking stunning in your outfits and accessories it reminds me of your weekly trips to Ruth's. Not for a hair cut but the same hair-do.  I used to think it was funny that you would go once a week to have someone else do your hair and that it stayed that way for 7 days~didn't you sleep on it like the rest of us did??! And that is when I discovered your Aqua-Net! LOL! That stuff is the superglue of yesterday!  I can't believe your kitchen wasn't just one big cluster being held together with Aqua-Net!  

I feel like I could go on and on with a hundred more memories from Easter Egg Hunts, to  traveling a short distance in our pj's while it was still dark on Christmas morning to see 12 stockings hung by the fire always with an apple and an orange waiting at the bottom to be picked out and adored as much as the other things that were packed on top of them.  Funny how I don't remember any of the other things that were in the stockings except the apples and oranges;-)

I know that I have not been back often enough to visit but I want you to know that I sit and visit with you and Grampie in my memories more often than I even realized until I started writing this.  I am so thankful for the most recent events and traditional ones at best that have brought us together the last two summers.  It has been wonderful to see myself as a child in my own children during our most recent visits during Christmas mornings and two of the most beautiful weddings I have been to.  To see my son driving a golf cart, swinging a golfclub, skipping rocks in the lake and asking for something to drink or eat at the clubhouse reminds me of how good I had it and teaches me that although I may not be raising my kids in the country setting I grew up in, I can certainly raise them with the same values, the same comforts and the same security that kept me safe and reassured me of love each and every day.  I can show them that although it's okay to want to see other places, meet new people, experience other ways of life, that it doesn't matter so much where you go or who you meet or what you do in life. It's your roots where God planted you to begin with, that get you there. 

Well, I knew how to start this letter and I sure didn't have trouble finding things to fill it up but I am finding it hard to come to a conclusion so rather than end with another memory or some great quote or word of God I am going to end by making another memory with you.  We are going to pick a day and we are going to go shopping. Since Zayres, Ames and Riches are no longer around we are going to hit the other places we used to go to...Mardens, Pennies and Kmart.  Then since the House of Pancakes has been replaced with a Rite Aide, and I think Belanger's is still open, we are going to have a "like we never had cancer kind of meal" and order us a Seafood Salad Sandwich, french fries and a Coke!  (Except this time mine will be followed with a coffee enema instead of an ice cream for dessert). And since I am the youngest one with the license now, I will sit in the driver's seat!  As long as I have it in DRIVE and not REVERSE we should have ourselves one good trip down memory lane.  LOL!

So, here's to you, another year survived, another birthday celebrated and to KEEPIN ON with the memories! And no matter what changes or remains the same, we will live according to Psalm 118:24 and be thankful for each and every day.  "This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it."

Love Always,


Crystal Fontaine-Bergeron said...

I love reading your blog! You write the most beautiful letters. You are such an inspiration to everyone. You are always in my thoughts and prayers. I hope you have a great Birthday with your family.