encouragement from beyond

during my organizing extravaganza, i went through my “memories box” to see if there was anything i was ready to let go of. contrary to the way my condo has been looking over the past year, i’m actually an anti-packrat. i have exactly one box of sentimental stuff, which is actually mostly full of journals. i’m loosening my militant stance on no hoarding, keeping more cards from friends on special occasions and different special items. still, i don’t keep much.

anyhow, i have always kept this funny little square tupperware box with a note from grama in it. she sent it to me when i was a kid with a little note she wrote inside that read, “This box is so full of love and kisses I could hardly close it.” i wanted to put the last envelope barb gave me inside the box with it, and saw that there was another letter inside. i don’t remember seeing this letter before, much less putting it in the box.

June 20, 1994

Dearest Lola,

Well, here’s the evidence of the great day! It’s up to you if you want to share them with anyone. I bragged about you and your class and your school yesterday to anyone who would listen to me. Now go ahead and get your education, and don’t fritter away your time or strength or attention on things that don’t contribute to your highest aims for your life. I never let anything interfere with my aim to serve the Lord in India. After I got there, I found it pretty lonely without a family around. But – at least I got there and served for awhile. Then, it seemed that I found fulfillment as a woman in being married and raising children.

So, go for it, whatever your goal is. Don’t forget you wanted to be like Marian Anderson.

I love you more than you can understand.

Your proud Grandma

this was right after my high school graduation. interesting that she mentioned Marian Anderson – she was one of the first successful black opera singers, and i portrayed her at a history night at school and sang part of an aria. last week when a friend and i were thrifting, i came across a Marian Anderson album.

in the 1940s, as a young single woman, grama traveled to india as a missionary. it was her life’s focus since she was about age 13. during that time, single female missionaries were neither common, nor really acceptable, so she had to be very patient and persistent. but she accomplished her goal, her life’s purpose. when she returned, she was over 30. i calculated recently and was surprised to figure that she had her children at ages 35 and 37. also unusual for that time.

i have always felt such a kinship with grama. we were very special to each other and loved each other so much, but there are just also many similarities in how our lives unfold, the paths we take. we’re not alike in the content but more in the focus, and the persistence, stubbornness, walking off the beaten path of life expectations. she was so courageous, and i’m so proud to be her granddaughter.

anyhow, what a sweet letter and pleasant surprise! it encourages me to know i’m just where i need to be, on the right path.

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2 thoughts on “encouragement from beyond

  1. Wow! I cannot tell you how comforting it is for me personally to read this post. But I think you understand as I know you read my lion dance experience. It’s the same kind of thing, these little bits of encouragement that are so affirming of the love that endures, even when the physical form of a loved one has changed. Your grandmother sounds like a remarkable and courageous woman. Very much ahead of the times. What a great legacy she has left for you.

    As a sometimes weary grad student mommy, these words of strength written by your grandmother are wonderful to see in black and white. May I borrow her words of encouragement, too?

    “Now go ahead and get your education, and don’t fritter away your time or strength or attention on things that don’t contribute to your highest aims for your life. ”

    Thanks for sharing your grandmother’s letter.

    • please do! i’m proud to know her words will comfort others, too. yes, i felt the same way about your lion and dance blog. it’s a difficult transition to make from the loss to meaning, but i’ll certainly take and love these little moments when i realize their love will always be with me.

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