Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Memories of an old friend

When B and I were dating, many moons ago, I had the chance to meet his Aunt Norma and his Uncle Delbert. I loved them instantly, they reminded me of my Great Grandparents and I felt like I had come home again when I was in their presence.

We didn't see them often, maybe only 5-6 times in about ten years, but Norma did something totally unusual for my generation, she wrote letters.

Every couple of months I would receive a card in the mail and in it was a sweet note, asking how things were going. I don't think she ever even knew how much her notes meant to me. They would stay posted on the fridge until the next note came along to replace it, then they would be tucked away in a box for safe keeping.

Eventually B and I got married, she wrote notes to me about heartbreak, infertility, compassion, I felt like I knew her through her letters and that despite the vast difference in our ages, we were friends.

As B and I finally had children, her notes were full of advice, old wives tales, and wisdom she had gained from her own years as a young mother. Some things were outright laughable ( put a bar of soap under the crib mattress to help them sleep through the night or some such) and others were answers to questions I had lurking in my mind. I appreciated all of her insight and her willingness to share with me.

In return I sent her pictures of the boys, silly stories about their escapades and my concerns for the world that my children would grow up in.

Over time she became more frail and the letters stopped coming. I missed them terribly. I missed my friend.

Then the day came when they moved her and her sweet, quiet husband from their home and into a care center. As their things were sifted through and sent on to new homes, some of those things found their way into my home, and my life, where I have a constant reminder of the people that I loved. A dresser in Pf's bedroom, an ornate, gold mirror in mine, and most cherished of all, a box of her books.

True to Norma's nature she shared herself through the books she read. Every single curse word was blacked out with a permanent marker. I would laugh every time I stumbled upon a black rectangle where a disapproved of word had been removed from the text. And most cherished of all, her thoughts were written beside the text in random places.

She would write notes to the next reader on the inside flap, telling what she liked or didn't like about the books, she would leave little comments in the margins when something touched her, or piqued her interest, or irritated her.

After years of her silence, it was like I had found my friend again.

Norma has been gone now for several years. I still think of her often. I hope she knows that I loved her and that I miss her.

Today, I read my friend Becky's blog and found something that brought a smile to my soul. She is a member of a book club. Each member of a small group chooses a book to read, as they read they leave little notes for the next readers, and pass the book along when they finish. I am intrigued, I really want to join this book club. But alas, I am a commitment phobe. It would mean multiple trips to the post office, and I seem to have some not exactly rational issues when it comes to the post office, I break out in a cold sweat just at the thought. Am I up for this challenge? *Sigh*

I miss Norma.


Becky K said...

Here is a secret: the Britt of SDBBE is local, and very easy to work with. I'm in a group this time with my sister mailing to me, so I don't see why (if you decided to do it) you couldn't be in mine or Britts group, and therefore able to walk (or drive) your book to the person in your group.

You should do it!! It's so much fun, like reading a book with your friends. The last book is the best, because 3-4 people have read it and it's become whole dialogues of commentary. Think about it...she'll be starting up again here in the next little bit.

And I LOVED that story you wrote about B's aunt. What a treasure! I wish I sent notes to people. In our high-tech age, a hand-written note means so much. Thanks for sharing!

Super Sly said...

What a great story. What an amazing lady.

The Yeates said...

My Grandma used to write letters to us, she lived in Denver. It was always fun, she would clip funnies, coupons, sometimes she would stick in a dollar or two. I like the idea of writting in books what you thought of them. Great Idea.

Kim said...

I love touching experiences like this. Thanks for sharing and Jeannette thanks for introducing yourself to me. I have found a new friend. Thanks! I added you to my google reader so I can keep up with you. I'm sure we've run into each other at the shop hop. I noticed you took lots of the same pictures as I did. I've also taught quilting classes at Quilts etc. for 2 years. But, it's been a little while since I've done that. I live in Utah County so I'm not too far from SLC.

Kim said...

I'm sorry I added an extra "n" in Jeanette. I feel it's important to get a person's name right. Especially if you want to be friends with that person. I could only find one picture of you on your blog and you do look familiar.

Amy Sorensen said...

I know you hardly know me (I'm Becky's sister) but I just had to say how much I enjoyed reading the story of your grandmother-in-law. that is exactly the sort of woman I hope to become. What a great experience for you!

I think you should try the SDBBE. It is SOOOO much fun! Plus, here is a post office trick: go when all your little ones are in bed and your husband is home. The automated teller thingee they have works REALLY well and is always open. If you go at 8:00 pm or so, there is rarely a line. you can even mail your package in your pajamas. If you wanted.

Not that I ever have or anything.

I just happen to share your phobia of visiting the P.O. with any child with me. Even my 13-year-old becomes impossible in the face of a long PO line!

Jackie said...

You are truly fortunate to have had Norma in your life. I can feel the love and affection you felt for her in your blog post. I'll be back to visit your blog again!