chey being

For my untempered heart


A life in letters.

As a young child and into my teens, I consistently wrote letters to my grandmother.  She lived a few states away and our families only came together for Christmas and summer vacation, but we were always communicating.  Writing thank you notes and life updates to her were never a chore.  When I think of writing letters now, it is a tedious process that I have little patience for!  Sign of the times, I suppose.  It was a different time, a different era.

I always felt a close connection to my grandmother.  I find it hard to put into words as I can not think of a specific reason or event as to why I felt so close to a woman I rarely spent time with.  It was purely a feeling on my part and to be honest, I know she loved me dearly, but I have no idea if she felt the same in return.  I was her first out of only two grandchildren, so I am certain I was extra spoiled. Grandparents have the luxury of simply loving their grandchildren and leaving all the dirty work to the parents.  Maybe that is why I adored her so much.  She loved me, I felt it, and I appreciated it.

I do not remember the occasion, if there was one, but somewhere around my late teens or early twenties, she presented me with a stack of photo albums containing all the letters I had ever written to her.  She had saved them all those years.  Just looking at the bright turquoise and orange flowered albums brings a sense of nostalgia.  Very 70’s looking.  I was so moved by her thoughtfulness.  I wonder if that had been her plan all along, or if one day she thought it time to do something with her amassed collection.  I will never know.

I have not looked at them since the day she gave them to me.  It has been over 20 years.  They are safely put away in some plastic bin and have followed me though my life’s journey.  It makes me happy knowing they are there; it is a comfort, but I am too scared of the heartache to peer into their depths.  My grandmother passed away about five years ago.  I still have dreams where I am trying to communicate with her even though she is gone.  I am pleading and crying in the dreams and I always wake up to my pillow wet with tears.  I am not ready.

These letters are a timeline of sorts of my childhood.  I have no doubt they begin with my first words put to paper and move through my carefree early years, my silly drawings,  my coming of age, the boy bands, and the glory and heartache of my first love.  They are leftovers of a relationship.  One-sided of course, as I did not save many of her letters to me.  One day I will be able to crack open those over-stuffed albums, and a box of Kleenex and I will laugh and cry at my lost youth and my lost friend.  Some day.


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Moments of Nostalgia Writing Challenge

Fishy smelling water.  Odd, maybe, but not to me.  I am truly swept back to my childhood when I am near water.  The unmistakable smell of fish, green algae, and even a hint of gasoline, and I am transported back in time.

It is my summers as a child, visiting my grandparents on Lake Wisconsin.  My grandparents are gone now.  My time as a free spirit diving off their pier until I was a water logged rag doll, is over.  My treasured time fishing with my grandfather will never happen again.  I will never hear that distinct sound of my grandfather opening a can of beer, or telling me in his best pirate voice, “I’m gonna throw you in the drink.”  He was a brilliant fisherman, just like his father before him.  He cared desperately whether or not my little sister and I caught a fish.  It meant a little less to me.  I just enjoyed being out on the lake, with the motion of the boat and hollow smack of the water lapping against it.  I remember the warm burn of the sun on my propped up bare feet (Just like my Gravatar!).  The water was always like glass in the early morning, so quiet and calm.  The cicadas had not yet started their incessant buzzing.  I remember the lunches that my grandma had so lovingly packed for us to enjoy out on the water.  We were always treated to a can of Squirt.  I was not allowed to have pop growing up so this really was a treat.  I miss watching my grandfather clean the fish we were lucky enough to catch that day.  His knife looked more like an ice pick;  it had been sharpened so many times over the years that the blade was getting thinner and thinner.  His hands could expertly dismantle a fish in minutes, until all that was left was the perfect white flesh that he would later beer batter and fry for the evening dinner.

I tell my children stories of my grandparents over and over.  They roll their eyes now, but I know that means that they will never forget.  Once my parents are gone and I am gone, who will live on to tell my grandparents stories?  Their stories will eventually fade and no one will be here to remember them.  That is difficult and brutal to digest.

I have been visiting their small little place on Lake Wisconsin for the last few years during the summer.  I want my children to experience what I hold so dear.  I hope it stays with them as it has with me.  It is bittersweet to be where they once were.  I cry every time.  It is haunting and sad and I have to stop myself from thinking about it too much.  New people are in their space now.  I don’t like it.  It feels disrespectful and I know that is silly.  There are a few left in the area that remember my grandparents, but that generation has mostly faded now.  It has been replaced by a new, younger generation to repeat the cycle of creating memories on the lake.  That beautiful lake.