It was recently my 32nd birthday. That's right, 32. There, I wrote it for all the world to see. I AM NOT ASHAMED. I AM YOUNG AT HEART.
Anyway, I took a little mini-vacation (which was much-needed, regardless of a birthday) and during that time I went home to visit my parents on Long Island for a couple of days. When I got there, my mom gave me something that she had found while going through boxes in the garage: a card my grandmother had written to me on my 12th birthday, twenty years ago. (Good God, I am old.)
I wanted to share what my grandmother wrote in the card because I feel that it nicely illustrates the kind of woman she was - funny, thoughtful, and creative. Interestingly, it also shows what was perhaps the actual beginning of the decline of her memory, which my family thought had started about a decade later. In any case, reading the card again after such a long time made me bittersweetly emotional.
Note: my grandma mentions some things in the card that I should maybe explain first.
1) When I was born, they put my mother's maiden name on my ID tag instead of my father's last name, so there was a bit of confusion at the hospital when people tried to visit us. Seeing as how my mom has always hyphenated her last name and my dad (John) is a pretty laid-back guy, I doubt that anyone was actually "embarrassed" as my grandmother writes, but she was probably just using poetic license!
2) Back in the day, I fancied myself quite the poet - I wrote poems all the time, I made a book of poems (along with my terrible, yet earnestly-created drawings) for a project in fourth grade, etc. Shel Silverstein and Nikki Giovanni were my heroes. In fifth grade, I even won first prize in the poetry category of the Suffolk County library system's writing contest. Now I see from where I inherited the poet gene (and, perhaps, my fondness for exclamation points!)
Thank you, Betty.
8 - 3 - 92
"My dearest granddaughter -
You know I wish you every wonderful blessing on your birthday! And I wish a better memory for me - caught at the deadline without a card! I'm so proud of you & all you've accomplished in your dozen years. Thought I'd have some fun & greet you with one of my silly rhymes - in your honor!
'Twas a short time ago
A quick dozen years
When I anwered the phone call
That called for loud cheers!
It was John who had called -
The news couldnt've been neater.
It's a girl, he shouted!
And we're calling her Rita!
I ran straight to the hospital
To greet our new "doll"
But the search proved near vain!
They tagged her wrong - calling her Neill
It embarrassed us all -
and caused her Dad pain!
Let's straighten the record, each of us said
The family name is Meade
To call her by Mommy's name would turn our faces red!
And now she's grown these dozen years
And there's no girl that's sweeter
A delight to all - a cause of pride,
Miss Meade - we still say 'Rita'!!"
She added on the back of the card:
"It all ran crooked - the meter isn't always correct - but it was fun to rhyme for my little poet! I love you, Rita - and cherish the many warm reflections of you - when my memory works right, I've many of them. Happy 12th - hope the enclosed will buy something you'd like to have.