Wednesday, January 11, 2017
My Grandmother's Calendar
Nostalgia gets me every time.
When I graduated from high school, my mom, like all loving mothers, organized a graduation party for me. I remember feeling pride when she told me how thankful she was that I had scrapbooked everything that had been important in my life up until that point. From various award certificates, photographs, to even love letters random boys had written me in the second grade, I had kept it all. This habit of mine, likely, saved her a significant amount of work, too.
It wasn't until I became an adult and started to create my own life that I realized that not everyone does this: not everyone saves everything, I mean.
When I look back at all the stuff I have saved, it is kind of ridiculous. Every single thank you, birthday card, Christmas card, wedding card, and any other card, that anyone has given me, my husband or children -EVER- I still have it.
Every concert, movie or sporting event ticket? Yep. I have all of those too.
In my basement is an outrageously full filing cabinet of old resumes, bills from my very first apartment, old health insurance cards, folders of papers from every college course I have ever taken, drawings from my nieces that are now in high school, and about any other once-but-no-longer-of-importance item that one can imagine.
I just can't seem to let go of these things. I still might want some of it someday, right?
Don't even get me started on my children's drawings, artwork and reports. Simply because the storage tubs were starting to overtake the laundry room did I recently sit down and painstakingly purge some of it.
I know where I get this habit.
My dad is like me. If it has meaning or memories attached to it, he also has trouble letting it go. But is wasn't until I visited my grandmother, his mother, a few weeks ago that I finally realized why I am this way.
Grandma had just finished up filling out her annual calendar when I stopped by. She, like many people, purchases a new calendar every year and fills it with dates to help her remember the events of the important people in her life.
As she was talking about how much effort her calendar was to complete, I picked it up and started casually flipping through it. I told her that I also write out a calendar annually, but that my husband makes fun of all the silly dates I continue to transfer from the previous years, like the date of my childhood pet dying to my writing the year someone was born on the day of their birth so I know how old they are turning.
She looked at me and smiled. "Look a little closer," she said.
I did, and I couldn't believe it.
I'll bet it took her days to fill this thing out. Literally days. Living into her 80's, she had experienced quite a lot in her life, and she had kept track of much of it too.
There was hardly a day left blank, with some boxes so full that her recorded moments needed to be written into the blank margins.
Looking at it brought tears to my eyes. I got a little choked up.
She had recorded the day (and year) that my dad, as a child, had broken his hip. She had recorded the day (and year) that I had called to tell her that I was pregnant with my first child. She had recorded the day (and year) of her party when she retired as a school cook. She didn't just write down days and years for birthdays, but had also documented the length and weight in pounds and ounces of her children, many grandchildren, and even more great-grandchildren.
Folks, she had even documented when she bought a flat screen television!
I had so much fun going through her calendar with her, listening to the stories that many of those recorded events brought to her mind. I even got hear a funny story about my dad and a spilled chamber pot that I had never heard before.
It was really an incredible moment. One I will never forget.
As I finished up my own annual calendar last night it felt so empty. I had previously thought that I had already recorded too many events in my life, wondering often if all of these dates were still worth copying every year.
But that has all changed.
I now find myself excited for my future. Thankful for my life. Anxious to see what important blank dates my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren will fill up.
As I age the difficult truths of life have begun to wedge themselves onto some of my calendar pages. People I know and care about struggle, have pain, sadness, and even die. Not everyone lives a long life, and pray that I am fortunate enough to fill up the pages of a calendar one day.
I guess it's okay that I have a habit of being nostalgic. It's okay to save a few cards or carry over a few calendar dates.
I'll be better able to share with my children and grandchildren, and if I am so inclined, my great-grandchildren, the story of who they are.
Thank you grandma for this important reminder.