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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Dear Margaret

Who visited you this past holiday season?  My Gramma Helen passed away about three years ago but she visited me on and off over the holidays.

It started in the two days leading up to my vacation from work.  I'd get in my car - once at work, once in a store lot, and I would smell cigarette smoke.  I'm not a smoker.  I don't allow smoking in my car.  And it's winter time in Wisconsin so it's not like I had my windows down and was catching a whiff from a smoker in another car.

One of the last times my Gramma and I did anything together was when I drove her in my car to go visit my Grampa in the hospital. 

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Three days into my vacation, I was working on a project where I needed to trace something petal shaped to make a pattern.  I couldn't think of a thing in my house to trace.  Then I turned around and looked up and there they were.

My gramma's black patent leather old lady shoes!  I used to put these on all the time whenI was a little kid.  I couldn't wait for the day when my feet would be big enough to wear them.  They were the one thing of hers I absolutely had to have after she passed away.  And the front was perfect for the petal shape I  needed to trace.

About five days later, I told the Conductor about the smoke in the car and the shoes as we drove to dinner.  After dinner, as we were geetting up to leave, I looked down at the orangey carpeting and found a penny.

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And you know what they say about finding a penny on the ground - it's a penny from someone in Heaven who's thinking of you.

The next day, I set about sorting out a huge box of papers of my grandfather's.  Inside it, I found a notebook opened to a page that simply said:

I flipped to the next page and found that my Gram had made carbon copies of several letters that she wrote to my Aunt Margaret from 2001-2002.  It was so fun reading them over the next few days.  Some parts sounded exactly like how she talked - I could amost hear her laughing and see her facial expressions.  Other parts were surprising - like when she'd close a letter with "consider yourself hugged" or "hugs and kisses".  My Gram never talked like that in real life. 

One thing she prided herself on was her beautiful handwriting. She even named her kids -Michael, Margaret, Louis, and Laura because she said "L" and "M" were the two prettiest letters to write.

Her last visit to me was on New Year's Eve. The Conductor and I ate at a French restaurant.  Each time we've been there, they have a guitarist who plays background music.  He mixes it up everytime.  Sometimes some jazz, sometimes some standards.  Once two ladies were there with a baby and he came and played "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" and "Braham's Lullaby" for the baby. 

The guitarist was there again for New Year's.  He was playing quietly as background music and he was in a different room.  The place was packed and noisy with conversation. Yet I heard the music.  At first I thought I was hearing things.  It was New Years...a French restaurant...everyone dolled up...and absoluately no one in uniform was in the place.  But sure enough. the tune came out..."from the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli...".

He was playing the Marine's song!  The first song I ever learned how to sing.  Gramma used to sit me on her kitchen table when I was a toddler and sing it to me over and over until I could sing it back.  She must've whispered in his ear and requested it just for me. 

Who visited you this holiday season?  Did you let them in or did you think it was your imagination?  We miss those who have passed on the holidays...I think sometimes they miss us, too. 

1 comment:

Caroline said...

I'm in tears. What a touching post. You're blessed to have such memories and to be visited by Grandma.

Lucky was the name of the dog who belonged to the Kwitek family - I'm close with the whole family but you mostly know Sara and Christine, my friends. Lucky had been under Christines care in the Dells at her home for a couple years as his health was failing. I last saw Lucky two days before he died, while out there. Although he could barely walk or see, he made a point to come over and smell me and say hi, and maybe goodbye as well. That was a couple weeks ago. Lucky was creamated.

I was at Christines house again this past Thursday. She showed me the gift bag that among other things contained Luckys ashes, in a container, sealed in a bag. As she placed everything back in the gift bag, whooosh! - Luckys unique dog scent came over my nose. Christine didn't smell it and I even leaned in the bag to take an intentful whiff....nothing. It was odorless. I believe he paid us a visit.