The Card by Nancy Malcolm

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I have very few things of my mother’s.  I know there wasn’t a lot but I also know my Daddy never wanted to let go of what he did save.  One of my most cherished possessions is a little birthday card my mother sent her mother in 1943.  Auntie Sue had found it in my Grandmother’s Bible and kept it all these years…for me.

This little card is sweet and simple.  She had written a letter and tucked it inside.  The letter was newsy and cheerful and mainly talked about her day.  When I first opened this precious card, I was struck instantly with tears and tenderness, for you see, this was the first time I had seen my mother’s handwriting.  I was mesmerized by the slant and curve of each graceful word.

“You’re the sweetest, best mother any girl could ever have.  I’m the luckiest girl in the world to have you.”  Love,  Sis

The blessings from this little card are profound and ongoing.  I now know her handwriting and have something she actually touched.  But, I also know how she felt about her own mother.  The love, respect and gratitude she expressed affects me deeply, and gives me more insight into her soul.

I would like to think that I would have written those same words to my mother if I had been given the chance.

“You’re the sweetest, best mother any girl could ever have.  I’m the luckiest girl in the world to have youl.”  Love, Nancy

Dear Motherless Daughter

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Nothing and no one can replace my mother.  I’ve lived 59 years without her and I know this to be true for me.  Nothing and no one.

A lot of people tried to comfort me by saying, “But, you had your father, your brother and a family of your own.”  That is also true, however, I had all those people and I still didn’t have a mother.  While I cannot speak for all motherless daughters, I can say for myself that not having a mother has affected me in every area of my life and the years have not erased the deep need I have for a mother, my mother.

Every true friend I have had, every man I have loved has known this fact about me.  There are plenty of others who don’t know that I am motherless and have assumed that I have “it all” and don’t know the meaning of loss or adversity.  To this I would say two things:  1.)  don’t assume you know everything about anybody and 2.)  if  you didn’t know this about me, then I might not have felt safe enough to tell you.

I have said these words a million times, “My mother died when I was four years old.”  But, it’s what I haven’t said that tells you the deeper meaning.  When my grandson was four years old, I looked at him and wondered to myself  how I ever lived with such loss.  Four is such a tender age, and to think of a soul wounding at that age and continuing to live until now at 63, is nothing short of a miracle.

I know my words may make you uncomfortable, downright uneasy, but what is buried alive never dies.  Put another way, I have to speak out, tell the world what it is like for us, the walking wounded.  I am sorry if my story makes you sad or my descriptions seem too harsh.  “Let it go”, you might be thinking, “Time heals all wounds, ” but to you I will say that we all have some places in our  hearts that need healing.  Look inward, take what you like and leave the rest.

My fellow motherless children, (you know who you are), you are not alone.  Keep reading.  At least I hope you do, for there is a language we know; a knowledge we have that unites us in kinship.  We share something that bonds us into eternity and gives us hope that someday…that hole will be filled up…..to the top.  We all take a different path to find our healing.  The balm of time may heal the wound, but the scar never quite disappears.  We are forever changed.

Mary Frances by Nancy Malcolm

 

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We were two sweet gals from the south…both tall, young and naive.  We were far from home and had big dreams and soon we would marry brothers.   Nothing prepares you for being a grown up.  You think it does and you think you are grown, but at twenty years old, are you?  We thought so!  Thus began my friendship and sisterhood with Mary Frances.

Let’s get right down to it…it was the best of times and the worst of times!  Frannie and I began our married life to brothers in the 70’s.  We learned to cook, work, raise children and have plenty of fun all in the safety net of each other’s friendship.  We came into our own….together.

From the very beginning we have been cooking and hosting our own holiday dinners.  We had many a near miss with a turkey or two (pun intended) and yet we pulled off gorgeous and scrumptious Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners at the tender age of 21.    We made gravy, dressing and cranberry sauce without a hitch and pies to make your mouth water.  And the family favorite for years were the ‘Angel Biscuits’, delicious yeast rolls from scratch.

Frannie was the first to have a baby and we both admit, it was quite a learning curve.  You’ll be happy to know Frannie’s child grew up to be just fine, but we had many a near miss with her and too many giggles to count.  I like to think that Frannie and I were a cross between Thelma and Louise and Lucy and Ethyl.  What’s really funny is that we would ask each other’s advice on something and neither one of us had any experience or knowledge of what to do.  Something about the blind leading the blind comes to mind.

It is so sweet to me now that we are both grandmothers.  We survived our raising and our children survived theirs….and now, these beautiful creatures, called grandchildren are here.  They are all precious and a sign from above that all things work together for the good.

Our lives were enmeshed and our families entwined, but it is our hearts that bonded as only sisters could.  I have learned a lot from Mary Frances.  I have experienced much of my adult “growing up” with her and we have seen the good things in life and felt the bad like a heavy steel door slamming shut.  We have loved and lost.  We have laughed and cried.  We have celebrated and grieved and never lost that pulse that beats between us, as sisters.

I read once that “A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart, and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words.”  I hope to always be that friend to her and she to me.  It won’t matter how long between our visits because time and circumstances will never erase our hearts.

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What Happens at Nannie and Papa’s

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I wasn’t born knowing how to be a grandmother.  My becoming “Nannie” has been a process that has evolved and changed through the years.  My husband, on the other hand, is a natural.  He has no boundaries or limits as to what he will do, say, give or spend on our grandchildren.  Most of the time I am the voice of reason.(aka: stick in the mud.)  Warning of danger, potential tummy upsets or Star Wars sensory overload.  But one thing is for sure, our love of our grandkids is honest, sincere and forever……to the moon and back!

When you are at Nannie and Papa’s you might have M&M’s as your breakfast dessert.  We have an M&M dispenser that each child thinks we bought just for them.  “May I have some of my M&M’s?” they ask.

At Nannie and Papa’s you are almost always guaranteed a trip to Academy.  New shoes? Check.  You want to sleep in a tent in the back yard?  Check.  You want a tricycle?  Done.  You just want to look around?  We’re on the way.

At Nannie and Papa’s we will feed you what you say you will eat, not necessarily what your parents said you would.  For the boys, it almost always involves something with tater tots and for our sweet girl, it could be avocado.  You are certain to have a yummy meal with dessert included.

While attending Camp Nannie and Papa’s in the summer, you will most likely swim everyday.  Quite possibly there is a trip to Academy involved before hand for water shoes or a high-powered water gun.

It is a given that I will take a million pictures.  I try to capture each child’s essence and document our outings.  One last thing we try to do at the end of a visit is measure and mark their height on the inside of the hall closet door. Each marking is a gentle reminder that the time goes too quickly and these precious souls are growing and changing right before our eyes.

While it is mostly true that what happens at Nannie and Papa’s stays at Nannie and Papa’s….what does go with them, we hope, is the deep knowledge that they are loved and important and valued.  We know we are blessed to have four wonderful daughters and these beautiful grandchildren.  Our hearts absolutely overflow with gratitude and pride to be their Nannie and Papa.

What happens at Nannie and Papa’s?  Love.  Pure love.