Dear Grama

a tribute to my grandmother

Dear Grama,

It was from you I inherited my love of the written word. Some of my earliest memories of you are watching you at your typewriter. I was fascinated to watch the letters appear on the paper, and even more intrigued at the way the correction tape could erase them when I distracted you too much. You could use a typewriter for anything, and you did. I loved to flip through your multiple sets of carefully typed and color coded Rolodex cards. One set for family and friends, one set for businesses. Our birthdates were on our cards as well as our phone numbers. I never ceased to be amazed at your attention to detail in organization and alphabetization. Your filing cabinet drawers were a work of art, with neatly labeled and carefully alternated file tabs.

Your typewriter table sat across from the big roll top desk in your office. That gargantuan piece of furniture was almost as fascinating as the typewriter, with its funny shaped drawers and all manner of compartments. You knew exactly what was where, but it was always a delight for me to have an excuse to go looking for something as simple as paper clips or brads within the recesses of those drawers—who knew what treasures I might find there!

But nowhere was your bent for organization more evident than in your books. Your past as a Christian school librarian was evident in the neat shelves, organized by topic, author, and title. There was hardly a room in the house that was devoid of books. I could sit for hours just studying the spines on your bookshelves without ever cracking open a cover. But your love of books was one you conveyed to both your children and each of your grandchildren, which meant we couldn’t stand in front of a bookshelf long without taking a book off the shelf. We spent many happy hours at your house reading the good books and magazines you kept readily available. (I’m pretty sure we learned most of our lessons about recent U.S. history from the Reminisce and Reminisce Extra magazines you subscribed to, and the accompanying books that Reiman Publications put together. We Pulled Together and Won was my favorite.) You gave us countless books as gifts through the years—reprinted classics and treasured hardback titles. Rare was the holiday when there wasn’t a book to open from you.

You’ve always loved giving gifts, but no gift have you given more often or with more love than the gift of encouragement through the written word. One peek into those desk drawers, one glimpse into your office, evidenced your most frequent of occupations. Postage stamps and return address labels, Post-It notes of all shapes, colors, and sizes. Cards and stationery sorted by theme and holiday. (And stationery, you always taught me, was spelled with an “e”, just like letter; whereas something that stayed in one place was stationary.) Envelopes of every size, and a variety of stickers to seal them.

You sent thank you notes to thank us for a thank you note. You sent “thinking of you” and “get well” cards. You remembered every occasion—our birthdays, our “spiritual birthdays” (the day we gave our life to Christ), Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, there was always the perfect card. You’d fill the card with handwriting and then add extra handwritten or typed pages. And you were always clipping articles of interest to include with your next note to us. Inevitably, there’d be a Post-It note of explanation on the articles, or a little P.S. added on the outside of the envelope.

And somehow, you did it all with the radio on. You had the daily schedule of programs memorized. I’d wake up in the morning to hear you listening to the radio while in the shower. You had a radio in the kitchen, a radio in your bedroom, a radio in your office. It was your constant companion throughout your day. And through you, I learned to love not only Ravi Zacharias and Paul Harvey, but Elisabeth Elliot and Allegra McBirney, too.

I don’t think there’s a person who has known you that has not been blessed by your gift of encouragement, both spoken and written. And Papa, he would always get you two cards on every occasion. Just like my husband does now. I think it’s safe to say that we share that love language of “Words of Encouragement”. And we’re blessed with husbands who speak it eloquently.

Thank you for your ever cheerful example of a loving wife, mother, and grandmother. Thank you for always using your words as “apples of gold in settings of silver”.


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  1. Finally, I need to comment – it’s off topic from this lovely post, but I had such a pleasure reading through your blog over the last days I just want to thank you. You ARE a writer!
    I have been following your blog for years now, and I almost got a little nostalgic when I arrived at the very early years, your wedding and all – it reminded me of my own early days of marriage a little later.
    I think it’s so amazing and romantic that you live on the exact spot where Merritt proposed to you. And it’s more than romantic that he build your home with his own hands. And I just love your contentment with what you have – a little house sounds perfect to me, but I know there are many people who would long for a bigger one. Your joy and happiness about what you do have is contagious, and it’s giving me pleasure to read how you care for your little home and the people in it. And I love the pictures of your stove, food, and Pyrex bowls…
    You are an inspiration and a blessing, Gretchen! Thanks so much for sharing with us, and I am looking forward to get more glimpses of your life over the next years, hopefully… Best to you and all the lovely people in your home!