When does a pen bring more value to someone than being just a way of communication? Sometimes significance lies in insignificant things. Writers for this blog series have chosen to write about objects that seem insignificant, but to them, hold great value. At the end of this blog series we will be creating a mosaic piece of all the images the writers provide. Thereby creating significance out of insignificant things.
As someone who grew up moving every couple of years, I became accustomed to losing things. With every move and new place, there were broken items, lost items, and items that we threw away before even leaving. We continuously downsized and I learned well the art of holding things loosely and not becoming attached to objects that could be broken, stolen, thrown away or otherwise destroyed. If you ask me, that is a very useful skillset to have in our materialistic society that measures wealth of life with quality of items more often than not.
I have learned to love more the behaviors and patterns people exhibit, rather than what it is that they have to offer me. That being said, sometimes the patterns people have are in fact the same as what they give to you. My Great-Grandma Marj was a woman of habits and patterns in the years of her life that I was fortunate enough to have known her. She loved computers, puzzles, and her family immeasurably. She also loved to send cards. Without fail, I would receive a card every birthday and every Christmas. These cards were almost always ones that she printed off on nice paper after personalizing them herself online and she always signed them “Gramma Marj,” these cards also frequently included a check to be deposited into a college savings account that my parents had set up practically the day I was born.
Other than consistently helping to fund my college education, my Grandma also regularly encouraged me in whatever it was I wanted to do at the time. When I spent years of my life doing theater, she was overjoyed that “maybe we’ll have an actress in the family” and when I gave up on that to move onto other things, she encouraged me again, asking only that I would at least send her a recording of myself singing to her.
During my senior year of high school, Grandma Marj got sick, really sick. She was once again diagnosed with cancer, but this time it was worse and we did not know how much longer we would have her around. The following summer, my family and I flew out to Georgia to visit her (and the rest of our Georgia family) and she was small, and seemed frail in a way I had never imagined. But she was as fiery as ever, just more tired than usual. We spent the week with her working on the 5000 piece puzzle we had given her for her birthday the previous June and I spent my eighteenth birthday sitting in her room talking with her and eating cake by her side.
Fast forward to a month later when I moved up to Seattle to start school, the first piece of mail I received from anyone was a card from Grandma Marj, shortly after getting to school in late September. The card was simple, printed on fancy paper, and signed “Gramma Marj” as usual. She was excited for me and proud of me for going to a university and leaving the comfort of home and she marked the occasion with a card. This was the last card I ever received from her as she passed away three weeks later and it is a card I will never, ever get rid of.
While others may see it as a card in the bottom of a letterbox I keep in my room, I see it as the greatest gift and one of my most cared for possessions. To me, it is a symbol of my grandma who was, undeniably, one of the smartest, strongest, sassiest, and loving women I have ever known. She had her patterns and habits, her quirks and intricacies and this simple, unexpected card is a testament of the person she was to me in the time we shared the earth.