Sometimes you run across a piece of paper that stops you in your tracks.
I was going through some boxes of old family “stuff” when I found a large old brown envelope of sympathy cards. After sifting through several of them, I realized they were cards sent to my maternal grandmother when my grandfather, her husband, passed away.
Holding those cards transported me back to when I was about 6 or 7 years old. He was the first person that I can remember dying. I recall I had a solo singing Jingle Bell Rock in my school first grade Christmas program. I wore a green dress with candy canes on the bib and a white blouse with a scalloped collar. I remember my mother wasn’t there to see me sing. At that age, I couldn’t really understand what was happening. Why my mom sat slumped over on the bed, her back to me, sobbing.
All I knew was my mother wasn’t there to see me sing.
Flipping through the cards now. So many beautiful cards, most simply finished with a signature. Names I didn’t know. People who loved and remembered.
Then, a different kind of card. No lilies or angels or cursive sympathies. Flat. Engraved with black letters. Someone had given a book to a library as a way to honor my grandfather’s death. And it was a book about fishing.
It was a full circle moment for a couple of reasons. First, I am a librarian. So a book memorial has special meaning for me. And then, my daughter, Dianne, who bears the name of my mother, loves fishing. So knowing there is a book out there, in a library somewhere, all about fishing, to honor my granddad felt both sublime and bittersweet.
Finding that card was like a cord running through generations. A moment of connection with a long distant past. I had no idea my grandfather loved fishing, even though he lived a stone’s throw from Lake Chautauqua. It was a smile down from a man lost decades ago as well as his daughter, to me and my own daughter who shares her name.