Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Writing a Letter (handwritten correspondence) (10/21/10)
TITLE: For Grandma
By Catrina Bradley
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I guess this is the special occasion I’ve been saving Grandma's stationary for. It was one of her gifts to me on my 12th birthday. She also gave me a Bible with my first name written in gold on the cover. Evie. I’ve been saving that, too, I guess.
I’d always meant for the first letter I wrote on the pretty stationary to be a thank you note to Grandma. But I didn’t mean to wait over three years to write it.
I also didn’t mean for it to be the last letter I’d write to her.
I know you don’t have much longer, but I also know that dying doesn’t bother you like it does most people. You’re sure of where you’re going.
I’m sorry I haven’t written to you before now, but honestly? I was scared to. But now I want to before it’s too late.
You always knew me. Even back then, when you lived on the next block from us, and you were at our house all the time. I always thought you kinda understood me, even though I didn’t understand myself. It was like you saw deep into me to stuff others couldn’t.. . The hurt. The sadness. The wants. The loneliness.
Mom and dad only knew me as pouty and high-maintenance. They never cared about what was wrong, they only ever wanted me to stop crying and whining.
My brothers knew me as a crybaby tattle-tale. They made fun of me, they teased me. They hurt my feelings to make me cry, and then they laughed at me.
But you, Grandma, you knew I had problems, issues, and a reason to be in a bad mood. You didn’t know what it was any more than I did, but you didn’t pretend everything should be alright when it wasn’t.
You let me be me, even when I wasn’t perfect. Well, for a while, anyway. But you let me cry about my punishment. You didn’t punish me for crying. You comforted me.
And you let me cry.
I wasn’t ever scared of you, either.
I wish you still lived there. Maybe you could have helped me understand myself better.
I wanted to finally say thank you. I wanted you know how much I love you.
I’ll miss you Grandma.
I blow gently on the page, making sure the ink is dry before I fold the flowery page exactly in half and slip it into a matching envelope. The gummed flap sweetens my tongue. In shaky letters, I write, “Grandma” across the front.
Envelope in hand, I squat in front of the fireplace and poke the logs, bringing the flames to new life.
“Jesus, if you’re really there, please give this to my grandma when she gets to Heaven.”
I kiss the envelope before carefully laying it on the burning wood. The flowers wilt and curl, then disintegrate before my tearing eyes. In a rush, the papery ash sails up the chimney in a blackened whirlwind.
I stand and go back to my chair. The cushions welcome my slight weight and gently hug me. On the coffee table, a small handgun waits for me, shimmering in the firelight.
I lean forward and take it in my hands. When I turn the barrel towards me and bring it to my lips, my elbow dislodges the stationary and it slips from its perch. Grandma's Bible is bared, and it mocks me. My golden name winks at me, daring me to finally open the cover.
Until now, the book had lived quietly beside me amongst the clutter--a constant reminder of Grandma. I no longer really saw it, like a landmark you pass every day but only notice when it changes.
I lay the gun down in my lap and extract the Bible from the mess.
Maybe I should look inside before I go.
But only for Grandma.
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