Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Letter


I got a letter in the mail today. In a small envelope, hand-addressed. I didn't recognize the sender's name, but the return address was from my dad's home-town. My initial crazy thought was: "My father is dead. And his East Texas relatives didn't know how to reach me, so they wrote me a letter."

(Who sends letters today? In "The Olden Days," there'd occasionally be a letter from someone you cared about in your mailbox among the bills. Getting the mail used to, thus, be somewhat exciting!)

In this case, my father wasn't dead. The letter was from the sister of my grandmother on my father's side. I still don't know how to spell what I called my Texas grandma: Me-ma. Meh-ma. (It's pronounced "Meah-ma.") She was always nice to me. (I remember crying after the one time I got to spend a whole week with her -- when I was 8 -- and then had to go back home to my parents...) At the time, back home, I couldn't figure out what it was that was making me cry about being away from her. What it was: Me-ma was just nice to me. There wasn't tension around her. She listened and responded to my 8-year-old conversations. (Even at 8, my own parents constantly made me feel like shit. Even at 8, I completely recognized the difference between how my parents acted toward me and how my grandma acted toward me.) I could talk to Me-ma.

And I thought her costume jewelry was very pretty. Boxes of it that she let me sift through and try on. And she gave in to the pleas of me and my cousin who lived down the street from her and who hung out with me that week to buy us both MOOD RINGS, please Me-ma! (They were so trendy in '73. At the time we 8-year-old cousins got them -- me picking the oval one, my cousin picking the round one -- my mood ring was too big for my finger, so I had to tie yarn around it so I could wear it. I still have it and wear it today, 37 years later.)

The one moment of discord: We -- Me-ma, my cousin, and I -- were sitting outside of a drugstore, and I started to recite something I'd heard from my step-Grandpa (my Me-ma's second husband):

Beans, beans, a musical fruit
The more you eat 'em, the more you toot
The more you toot, the better you feel
So why not eat beans every meal!

Me-ma told me I shouldn't talk like that! :)

The letter I received today was from my Me-ma's sister, now nearing 90. She'd invested money in the past and, having no kids of her own, wanted to now distribute earnings among the grandkids-slightly-removed. The letter held a check for $1,000.

A check to me for $1,000.In the middle of my sporadic free-lance jobs, my scrabbling about for anything to pay my bills... I'm in shock at her kindness and remembrance of me. And at my utter out-of-the-blue luck.

Thank you, great-aunt Edna. Thank you.

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