Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Always Right Beside You

Although I've never had the luxury of living down the road from my grandma, or even a couple hours down a highway like my kids do, I've built and maintained a pretty special relationship with my mother's mother.  She's the one who taught me that no baking session is complete without a host of brightly colored aprons and no recipe worth knowing is worth writing down.  Let's be honest, most of Grandma's recipes are a dash and a pinch and a splash and a taste... and completely impossible to reproduce exactly.  That's why we love them.

Beyond our shared love of cooking, Grandma also shared with me her love of writing, photographing, and sharing memories.  My grandpa built her a special bookcase just to hold all of her photo albums with pictures from their travels.  My guess is that she would've loved blogging!

Around the time I got married, I started a box to keep all of the handwritten letters my grandma's sent me.  I am so glad that I did (and wish I'd started sooner).  I love reading and rereading those letters, written in Grandma's perfect handwriting.  I especially appreciate all the little newspaper clippings, recipes, etc. that she sent to let me know she was thinking of me.  Of all the gifts, her words are what I value the most and will miss more than anything. 

With this in mind, I searched Etsy for the perfect way to honor that gift.  I'd seen several different types of jewelry made from loved ones' handwriting and started sifting through the letters I'd collected for the perfect word or phrase.  I had several good options, but unlike many people who make these to honor deceased loved ones, I realized that I could just ask her.  I didn't tell her what it was for, just asked her if she would write down the one word, phrase, or thought that she would have me carry with me always.  Being known for her windy story telling, I knew one word would never be enough, but the advice was heartfelt and perfect.

Once I had the message, I decided which words I wanted to use:  always right beside you.  I thought this perfectly captured the message of Grandma's words.  Always - not just when we need Him most, not sometimes, ALWAYS.  Right beside you - not watching over, or there for you, but RIGHT BESIDE YOU like a friend, a companion, a parent, a guide.  As always, Grandma's words were perfect.  For me, the bracelet has a double meaning - Grandma's original message, but also that she (and her words) are always right beside me.  It's her words, in her handwriting, right there on my wrist every time I look down and need to see them. 

The Etsy shop that I chose for the bracelet was Caitlin Minimalist.  I liked that she gave the ability to have more than one line of wording, it was slightly curved, and had an attractive chain (I really like the little feather charm on the clasp, too).  She was great to work with, shipped quickly, and the handwriting was a pretty perfect match.  I made two others for my mom and sister and all three came out almost identical.  So far, I've been wearing my bracelet almost daily for about a month and haven't had any issues.  I wear it more to work than at home since we've been doing some house projects and I was a little concerned about breaking it.
The past year has been a tough one for Grandma, as she's battled worsening pulmonary fibrosis. It has been incredibly hard to watch, knowing how uncomfortable she is. It's been especially hard not being able to go see her lately since my vacation is set way in advance and I don't always get the weeks I request. Our words and letters and pictures have been all we've had to stay connected. I am forever grateful that my Aunt Kathy drove her out to our new house last year right after we moved in. I got to show her our house, our town, and walk her around our property (taking lots of pictures, of course). That memory, along with so many others, is and will always be just where I need it - right beside me. 

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