Under another name I putp ua letter to my birth father after he died. It was my way of dealing with the empty piece of loss inside my chest. After I wrote that one I realized that I have lost a number of people in my life but I never got to say what I felt and what I thought about their effect on me. Since I wrote that piece I have been working on letters to others of the dead who I wanted to finish my thoughts of.While these may never see print I felt I needed to put them somewhere. So here is part of the letter I started to my Nana.
As I have reached the second half of my life I have started to lose those who were pillars in the development of who I became. Fifteen years ago I was lost inside myself, wondering why I was here and then I got the call that you were gone. That call devasted me but it also brought me more into focus.
The years since then have been filled with highs and lows as I tried to be as strong as I believed you had been.
Looking back I realize that my earliest memories are not of my mother or father but of you, my nana. You taught me to sew by making outfits for my teddy bear. That ragged blue and white friend looked both silly and so fine to my childish eyes. You taught me to like flavor in my food and to find the absurd in the printed word.
One of my fondest memories was sitting and cutting out stories from the trash rags about spacemen and monsters. I believe you helped me discover what I would find as a life long interesting in all things not mundane. You were a writer in your own right. Everyday you would sit down and write something and being published in the paper was so cool to me.
Before you passed I thought you had told me all your stories but in the past few year I have learned things that saddened me, shocked me and yet convinced me that while some things made you seem selfish you were and are still my idea of a strong woman.
Though for a long time we weren’t sure exactly how old you were it amazed me that you were in your nineties when you left us. Now I wish I truly knew your full story. From raising you son alone in the depression to losing a child to having my mother too early, life was hard.
And it is how you and my mother were together that confuses me. She was your only daughter. A delicate child who should not have survived yet she did. Doggedly fighting to thrive even though she had so many issue. Was it her outwardly timid personality that bothered you? Was it the physical weaknesses or her desire to be what other wanted? Was it her constant babble or was it that she didn’t stand up for herself that kept you from getting close?
I know now that inside you had to have been lost. You were so beautiful that men flocked to you but I think that didn’t help you. Did you ever find yourself for yourself or just through the eyes of the men you dated or married? You came from a different time but women have always had ways of being themselves.
I miss you, missed you even before you left us. I tried to stay in contact with you but in the months and years before you passed you had gone away. Dementia is a horrible thing. It takes away the person you were and leaves in place a different face. You forgot you had a daughter some days and other days thought I was that daughter. The saddest moment was when I last visited and you told me how much you disliked the woman who married your son. You had thought that Al was your son and that mom was the woman who took him from you. The only daughter you had and you forgot her. It broke my heart.
The day I stood at the funeral home and listened to people talk abut you I realized I didn’t know you at all and sadly I never would really know the true story of you. I miss you Nana, every day and every way I miss the woman who had time to teach me little things. I miss simpler times we spent together and I miss you.