Thank You. Part One.
I have had a personal tradition of writing love letters to people who make a difference in my life each year. I usually get about two or three done a year, but I’d like to start writing more, and I’d like to take a stab at doing it openly, to celebrate the people who have made my life as great as it is. The first person I’d like to do this with, I think, is a person who deserves it, but for no good reason I haven’t expressed this as often as I should. Perhaps, now that I think about it, I have never flat out thanked for shaping me to be the person I am. You deserve to be first.
When I was in elementary school I used to brag to my friends constantly about you. You were the only grandma on the block that played RPG games, and beat every single version of Mario before I did. You have no idea how cool this makes you. No one else can say their grandma taught them how to play Zelda. Hell, people have a hard time believing me when I claim it. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. I know where I got my wild imagination from. Without a doubt, it was you. I remember being about four years old (I’m guessing), and you were in the kitchen prepping for dinner, I was at the bar doodling on your grocery list. You were humming a tune that I didn’t recognize and when I asked you what it was, you told me you’d made it up. I remember very clearly being angry about this. I thought you were lying to me, because I could not grasp the concept of “making something up.” Certainly not something as beautiful as the songs you would hum. Clearly, you were playing a trick on me!
Over the years you taught me how to make things up. You got down on the floor and played dolls with me for hours and hours. You taught me to paint, to sing, to crochet. Every creative hobby I have today has roots in you. When I paint, I think of you. When I hum, I think of you. And when I try new things that we never did together, still I think of you, how you would approach it and how much fun you would make it. Of everyone in the family, I think my brain is most like yours. This last Christmas there were at least three times when I was about to say something and you beat me to it. You’d make a joke about how unfortunate that is, but I love our weird brains.
You also gave me a love for collections. You collect decorations and figurines. I collect antique lunch pails, unicorns, PEZ, records, and 70’s inspired decorations. It’s something I take a great deal of pleasure in, and I get my taste from you. I grew up in a house with minimal to no decorations, but your house has always been beautifully adorned with seasonal decor, often with pieces that were hand-crafted by local artists. I developed my hunger for art from watching yours. Now look at my house, there are no white walls, and it’s filled with art. Another of your influences.
My favorite memories of my childhood with you all involve creative play. I loved that you’d let me play with cheerios when I got the little dump trucks out. I’d fill the back of the trucks with cheerios and push them across the living room floor. Another favorite was my play-do hair-trimming set, which I played with just feet away from the gum drawer that was always stocked with watermelon bubble gum. The pieces were too big for our lady-size mouths so we always shared a piece.
By far the best memory I have is of painting the gingerbread man. The date on the back makes me about three years old. I don’t actually remember painting it, and after teaching preschool I know now that there is no way in hell I painted it by myself. It’s more likely that you held my hand and helped me paint those perfectly placed lines and dots. What makes it my favorite memory is the fact that you made me believe I did it on my own. It wasn’t until I was 25 years old, watching three-year-olds paint, that I realized I hadn’t done it alone. You made me believe I was an amazing artist, and that is by far the best gift you gave me.
I should have told you all of this so much sooner. I don’t know why I thought you would just know… You are very special to me, I have always and will always love you very much. More than I can express. I hope that when you see the artistic talents I have spent so much time developing that you can take credit for what you have done. Not a lot of people get to feel as fulfilled as I feel, doing what I love, making art. You got me here. Thank you.