She Had A Book Inside Of Her
My beloved grandmother died when I was 19, and now I’ve just turned 57. It’s been 38 years (longer, really…) since I heard her say those words so many utter at some point in their lives. “I’ve got a book inside of me.”
I was young and naive and honestly didn’t know what she meant. But the only time I ever saw her with a pencil in her hand was when she was scribbling out a recipe for homemade cream puffs, or making a grocery list, or perhaps jotting a note of thanks or condolence to a dear friend.
Well, then there were the letters she wrote me after I moved out of my parents’ house and into my first apartment. It was right around the time of the Watergate scandal and I remember being so impressed that she—-a staunch Republican—-could bring herself to admit that Nixon had flubbed up big-time.
I treasure those letters for what were then and what they have become with the passage of time, the envelopes containing as they do not only her inked thoughts, but also ambered newspaper clippings from the Kansas City Star—-historical documents one and all.
I find these letters among my personal ephemera from time to time and inhale her scent—-White Shoulders—-and miss her with a sudden pang of grief that defies logic but is true nonetheless.
I miss her wisdom, her teaching of homemaking skills, her cooking (best pan-fried chicken in the known universe), her beautiful needlework, and the lunches of Ritz crackers, peanut butter, and a large glass bottle of Coca-Cola we shared so often.
Most of all, though, I miss the book she didn’t write. I never even knew how to ask her what it would have been about, had she gathered the momentum to begin it. My father was a frustrated poet (and a frustrated banker because of it….) and I didn’t know how to broach a subject with her that might have caused her (as it did him) angst I couldn’t soften.
“I’ve got a book inside of me.”
I inherited so many belongings of my grandmother’s, but the items that have disturbed me most over these 38 years since her death are her unfinished projects. Since she taught me to sew and knit and crochet and embroider and quilt, it was assumed by my mother and non-crafty sisters that I would complete what Grandma started—-that I somehow owed it to the family to do so.
And now, all this time later, her projects are still unfinished, languishing in my attic, waiting for….me?
I don’t think I’ll be finishing the work she began, not anymore. I’ve finally realized that there was a part of Grandma that started all those projects to avoid the book inside of her, to keep the words locked up even while her fingers worked furiously on other beautiful projects, on substitutes for her thoughts and feelings and creativity with words.
The best I can do is use her snippets of filet crochet and random quilt blocks to decorate pillows or fashion simple doll clothes in her honor, and offer them to family members as a memorial to a treasured ancestor.
And then use the rest of my life to honor her in the only other way I know how, by pushing aside the distractions, no matter how beautiful they might be in their own rite, or how cherished they might possibly be by my own grandchildren someday.
Because, after all, I am her granddaughter. And I’ve got a book inside of me.
Posted by Katy on 01/04/11 at 05:07 PMFallible Comments...
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