In March 2011, G (she refused to be called grandma. Lol) was diagnosed with lung cancer. The 16 months that followed were full of triumphs and setbacks, laughs, frustrations and moments when we all questioned our sanity.
It’s taken me a while to realize that I can’t let the memories of the last 16 months take precedent over other memories I have of her. I’m not all the way there yet and I know it will take time, but I’m getting there. My most recent memories of her often cripple me, leaving me crying in my office, my car, my apartment. But now when those images start to come to me, I think about the influence G had on me as a woman, a reader and a writer. Overall thoughts of her remind me that I’m a writer because she encouraged me to be a reader.
I was a bit of a bookworm when I was younger. When others were outside playing, I was on my grandmother’s couch with a book. (I also had a weird obsession with paper, notebooks and pens.) My grandmother, a librarian, was an avid reader. From what I can remember, we never had long, in-depth conversations about books or writing, but she often took me to the library and we even had poems published in the same anthology when I was in grade school.
G wasn’t the most affectionate woman, but she always told me how proud she was of me and the way I was living my life as a journalist. And even though she won’t be around years from now to see my first book, I know she’ll be watching and she will be proud of that as well.
While going through some of her belongings when we were looking for pictures for the memorial service, we found evidence of my grandmother’s passion for observation and writing. In a journal she kept hilarious, meticulous notes about the people and places she encountered, resembling short character sketches.
After talking about wanting to write a story of her life, her sister Eunice started sending her writing prompts in December to jog her memory and get her started.
HOW DID I GET HERE?
It was the best of times, it was the best of times. No, I haven’t made a mistake. I finally concluded that where I am now, what I am experiencing is not a mistake, but where I am supposed to be. Regardless of how bizarre the people or circumstances in the past have been, there is a purpose for all of them. And now my story begins…
Reading these snippets did more for me and my aspirations to write than anything I’ve experienced in a long time. And it made me feel that this craft and the passion for it can truly be hereditary. My mother and sister are also great writers, though it’s not something they’ve pursued. My grandmother started a line of creative writers that I pray continues through my children.
And for that, among many other things, I will always be thankful for her.