Thursday, December 08, 2011

the holts

I'm getting my Christmas cards ready and of course it got me thinking about my Grandpa Roly. He would sit at his beautiful and impeccably organized desk and write out Christmas cards to every single member of his family. He did this on birthdays too and his cards were never late. I always looked forward to Grandpa's card arriving. I'd find it tucked between the frame and mirror that was on the table in the entryway; it meant my birthday was coming soon. It was always the first thing I opened on my birthday because I didn't have to wait until after school for it like I did with the presents. It usually contained a crisp $5 bill and a note that was illegible to anyone but Roly's own daughter, my mother, about what a wonderful child I was and how much he and Fawnie missed me. It hardly ever contained any subjects but instead had sentences beginning with their verbs. "To our beautiful 7 year old. Wish you all the best this next year. Love to hear about all you're doing at school. Miss you lots."

I was imagining what my Grandfather's Christmas card would say this year. "Love taking walks with Fawnie. So happy to hold her hand again." "Met Dean. He and Fawnie sure do laugh." "Ate gravy on ice cream." It is heaven after all. I'm sure it would still end with "Miss you lots."

I know I miss them. Sometimes it just hits me how much I miss them. They were the definition of unconditional love which I suppose it what grandparents are for, but they just went all out. Everyone needs to feel that from someone in their life and I'm so glad I got to experience it with them.

After my Grandpa died, I inherited my Grandma's pearls. Grandma didn't wear a lot of jewelry so I don't really associate them with any specific memory of her. But after she died, Grandpa told me one of his favorite things when he went on business trips was to find something beautiful to take home to Fawnie. He felt sorry that he couldn't afford to pay for her to get her hair or nails done every week like lots of her friends (we're talking about 1950's and 60's curls and up-dos) but he could afford a treat every now and then. Let me tell you. My grandpa knew how to give a treat. He was such a thoughtful man that he bought beautiful tasteful jewelry that would match specific outfits of my grandmother's that he liked. And he bought these pearls because everyone needed pearls then. It goes to show that while his co-workers were doing less-than-honorable things with their time after work on these trips that he was thinking about his wife and how he could make her happy.

That's what I think about every time I wear those pearls. I think about how much my grandparents loved each other, and as different as they were (which is to say, surprisingly different in their talents and temperaments) they were crazy about each other. They respected each other, and they looked for ways to excite and delight each other.

I've shared this on my blog before, but it's one of my most cherished memories of my grandparents. It's what I hope my marriage will become. On my Grandparents' 60th wedding anniversary, I asked my Grandpa if he had any favorite memories of their life together. He said, "Oh, well, I got lots of 'em. There were lots of special times and memories. I carried your grandmother down a mountain once-- not a real happy memory, but, well.... I guess it's all the little day to day things that made it special. You work hard at it and you just keep going at it and holding hands. And then after a time, you're not just holding hands, you're holding your heart's delight, and then even the little things like holding hands become special."


Karen Ahlstrom said...

Thanks Heather. This made me cry. In a good way.

Rebecca Holt Stay said...

OK. We are all crying tonight.
I've been thinking of them both all week : thanks for sharing these lovely memories.

Lisa and Mark said...

heather, you are THE BOMB. you know you're a good person if you'll take all that time to do something for someone else. and i most definitely appreciate it!

rusted sun said...

What a perfectly worded memory. I hope we can all have marriages like that.