February 13, 2015

gift memoir #1: my love story

in the beginning, a long time ago, my gramma 'd' was born in a tent.  growing up, she never had much money and was never formally educated.  i'm not sure if she ever had the chance to learn how to drive.  instead, she was expected to take care of her own at a very young age, and to care for her siblings.  she fell in love early, left her home and married at the ripe age of 14 years.   as was the regular way of life way back when, she started her own family right away.  she reared six children, one of whom died at a young age.

needless to say, there were plenty of hardships my grandmother endured during her life.  but she didn't let that stop her.  no way.  she was stubborn as all get out; even more than me!  and, if you know me, you know she must have been a pretty darn, big stubborn head.  (yes, she was.)  and, i respected the heck out of her because of that.

every year for my birthday, she would give me $1 inside a birthday card.  it wasn't much, but it was a reminder she knew what the day was - a day to celebrate my birth.  and, i could take a moment to count my blessings over a yummy ice cream cone with that money.  at christmas, she gave me $5.  again, nothing extravagant, but i always knew she loved me and the dollar amount was never important.  the fact that she NEVER forgot was enough to keep me smiling.   i knew it was a lot of money to her, especially considering the amount of grand-babies and great-grands she sent money to every year.  it only gave me a greater appreciation for her and her unfailing gift.

now that they have long gone, when i think back to my childhood i realize how much i looked forward to those cards.  other than twice a year, there weren't a lot of opportunities for her to give me gifts or take me special places.  there just wasn't the money there for her to do any of those things.  so, she found other ways to give. and, other ways to make lasting memories together.

i remember one particularly significant gift she gave me.  

i was a senior in high school.  it was spring time, nearing my birthday.  the end of the school year and graduation was looming around the air.  i was going to be the first in my family to go to college.  this was a big moment. one i'm not sure she knew how to handle.

so, on this spring day, i was just visiting her at her house.  i don't remember exactly what i was doing, but i'm pretty sure i was just chilling like a teenager does.  maybe i was watching wheel of fortune, or one of her soap's with her, cuz that's kind of how we bonded as i got older.  but, she looked at me, told me to hold on a moment, and then disappeared into her master bedroom.  a few minutes later she reappeared with her hand in a fist.  she looked at me, smiled and said, "i have something just for you."  

i was surprised and shocked.  i couldn't think of any other time when she had said those words to me. when i visited she would pull out old photos and reminisce of times when i stayed over, or laugh about the time she cut my hair and made my mom really mad.  i would remind her of the scary boogie man she claimed was always on guard, and the names she would call me.  whippersnapper and rosebud when i was being clever or good, and carla-san, when i was about to get a talking to!  then, she would talk of days when i used to eat all her mint leaves & honeysuckle from the yard, and chase the chickens around the coop.

oh, how i genuinely loved spending time at her house, and using my imagination on her little 'farm.'  the train that ran through her backyard led to many hair brained adventures!  and, i remember grandpa opening his can of cheese balls to find i ate them before he ever had a chance to taste one on his lips.  i'm pretty sure this made me gramma's favorite!

so, as she opened her hand to reveal the gift, my eyes welled up.  she presented me with the greatest treasure a young girl could imagine.  her grandmother's wedding band.  the one she wore for over fifty years, maybe sixty years at that point.  no frills, no diamonds, just an eternal symbol with a few simple words inscribed on the inside of the band, 'with love.'

i was rendered speechless.  and extremely honored.  of all the kids, grandkids and great-grandkids in her legacy, she chose me.  she chose me to wear and care for the greatest symbol of love she had in her possession.    

i wore that ring (on my thumb) all through college and until the day i got married.  over the years, i would pull it from it's showcase and relish in the emotions it evoked upon sight.  and, over the years, for various reasons i've found my own wedding ring shown less and less on my finger.  the sad moment of putting away my own symbol of love (hopefully for my granddaughter one day),  spurred a new impression.  and at that moment, there was no doubt in my mind the next best thing was to wear the little golden circle preserved in my jewelry box.

a gift that exemplifies the true meaning of love.

i enjoy that every day at some point, she comes to mind.  special memories of sweet 'gramma love' fill my heart. and in my not so stellar moments, i'm reminded i have her stubborn superpowers to make it through another day.





Do you have a gift memoir to share?  
I'd love to post your story on my blog as an inspiration to others.  
Let's work together to spread the message that gifts really do make a difference.  

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