My Grandma and I write letters. We don't talk on the phone very often, and see each other every 3 or 4 months. Jeff and I stop in for a visit and she frantically scoops vanilla ice cream into stale cones while my Grandpa scrambles to get some cheese on a plate, offers bananas or oranges, always a glass of ginger ale. Those two have taught me how to host - Always making sure guests are taken care of, sitting side-saddle in their chairs should someone decide a cup of tea would be nice.
I love getting her monthly correspondence, often on very random note paper from hotels they've visited, or, like yesterday, large white hearts she cut out of paper ("I couldn't get out to the store, on account of all this snow, so I thought this would be nice!"). She almost always draws pictures on the envelope, of she, my sister and me tobogganing in the countryside, or ducks in a pond. Always scenic. On the front of the envelope she addresses it differently each time; sometimes Jeff and Jay Hudson, sometimes Jay and Jeff Patterson, sometimes simply, classically, Mr. Jason Hudson. They usually start "Dear Jay (Hi Jeff!)", always a shout-out, sometimes added later, in a different colour of ink, but there, reminding me how much she really loves him. I usually crawl into bed and read them aloud, stumbling over grammar and abrupt shifts in topic. I save every letter, and its envelope, reading through them once in a while.
I wrote my Grandma a letter last summer. Well, I wrote it two years before that, but finally sent it in July. I had a list of questions, some tough, hard-hitting, others less-so. I asked her to think it over, and if she thought she could, take some time to answer them. I knew it would be hard, but I'm desperate to know a little more about her.
My sister and I spent much of our childhood at her house - weekend sleepovers, March Breaks, P.D. Days. We'd go without cable just to be near her. Ice cream and Jell-O flowed like water, often dessert came before dinner. We'd dress up in her clothes and lip sync for her, she'd go silent and slide off the "chesterfield" in stitches. We'd walk down the block to the bulk food store to stock up on candy, tea parties and forts under the dining room table. She'd twist the skin of her eyelids into crepey little points to make us giggle and she'd slap herself in the belly just to get a laugh. She was a clown and she let us use her good china cups. She told us stories of her childhood as we fell asleep, all three monkeys in one big bed. We played Eye Spy and sat in her sunporch watching the world go by. She created a place for us where we could do no wrong, with a never-ending supply of homemade pie. I know she enjoyed it as much as we did.
In my letter I asked her about her most joyful moment, her saddest. What makes her angry, what she wishes she'd done. I asked her if she thought she was a good mother, if she loved my Grandpa when she married him. I wrote each question at the top of a blank page and asked that she write her answer below and send it back to me. I got the first one today and promised I wouldn't tell anyone what it said.
I didn't think I could love her more than I already did.