Letter to A Loved One

Jan 10th, 2014

Dear Grandma,

Hi grandma, it’s been awhile. It’s been so long I don’t even know what to call you. Grandma sounds weird, calling you Mitzi is to impersonal, and Mrs. Roberts was my mom’s name and is now my wife’s name. So lets just call you Gran, I like that. I saw it in an Australian comedy called Angry Boys, I don’t know if you would like it or not, they cuss quite a bit in it.

Where do I start? There is so much to say, so many things I can talk about. So much has happened and changed since we last talked, it has literally been a life time. I’m 31 now, all grown up and on my own. I have been married now for almost 2 years to the most beautiful girl I have ever known, her name is Stephanie and I know you would like her. She makes me laugh, we like  a lot of the same things, we love our cats, and we just generally get each other. No kids yet, or ever, not sure, still to early to decide. We are having fun being together and on our own, and money is tight so it’s to early to make a solid decision, and who wants to be a great grandmother anyway?

Mom got remarried. It’s been about two years for her as well. I know you never really like my step dad anyway and she seems happy. Mark and mom (i’ll just call her that it’s easier) split in ’93 I think it was. To tell you the truth Gran I couldn’t have been happier in all of my life then when mom told me they were splitting. All he ever did was make her unhappy, yell at her, and yell at me. I remember how fast I packed my bags to move, especially since we were moving in with Risë, I though this would be a great time to spend with my cousins and my aünt.

It was hard though, Joshua didn’t get to see Mark very often. It was hard for me as the big brother because I never met my dad, and he never got to see his. I heard you didn’t like my father either, it sounds like you have a excellent sense of judgement (insert laughter). I didn’t get to see Chris or Jimmy at all the few months we lived with Risë, Jimmy and uncle Larry had moved to Colorado to start a ranch and Chris joined the military, so it was just Risë, mom, and myself. Joshua spent a lot of time at his babysitter, it was too small for all of us in Risë condo in Placentia, plus she was only there because she was trying to sell it and move to Colorado with Larry and Jimmy.

I am not ashamed to admit it Gran, those were really hard times. We struggled quite a bit after that. I moved around to several schools, mom commuted miles to and from work, it was a hard few years. After a few failed moves we ended up in La Habra. It is funny to me now because I remember the drives mom and I took to Risë’s house from your house in Whittier, and it cut right through La Habra. I liked it there, I met new kids, met some life long friends, experienced my first love, my first heartbreak, got my first jobs, and grew up a lot. Also my sister was born there! You would love Mikayla, I know it, not because you have to but because she is so smart and beautiful, full of spirit just like mom. Joshua is self driven and very strong, he is the most different mom, Kayla, and myself. He’s is a lot like his dad, which is not a bad thing, because one thing his dad was very driven. They both work long hours and strive to be the best at what they do, you would be very proud of him.

There is so much more I can talk about, so many things to say, but I have something to ask you. I’ve been thinking about it for years and this is finally the opportunity to ask. I think about it and it never makes sense to me. Do you remember the bear you had? Not an actual bear but the huge stuffed bear? I remember it being bigger than me. It seemed like it was 10 feet tall, a light brown with black eyes. It had a hole in it’s back to make it move like a puppet, and it had a hard black leather nose that would squish when it was messed with. That’s how you knew I was playing with it when you weren’t home, I would sneak into your room and we would talk to each other, me and your bear. He had a very deep voice and liked to remind me to do my homework. He always said it would make you very happy if I cleaned my room before you got home from work, and I would feel bad when I didn’t. I would spend hours playing with him on your bed and when I was done I would try to place him back in the exact same spot you had left him so you wouldn’t know. You always did though, and you always got really mad at me, fix the bears nose, and put him back on your bed. I never once played with your wig though, it seemed special to you and thats why I figured you kept it on your nightstand next to all your jewelry.

When you went to the hospital, I stayed at Mark’s apt in Downey. I remember you didn’t want to see me. It made me feel very sad because I really wanted to go with mom and Mark to see you. I was  alone at his apt watching MTV and Nickelodeon for hours, Danger Mouse and Cyndi Lauper. I remember feeling sad but being excited that I was watching so much television, I never got to watch that much when Mark was around. It was getting dark and they both came home. I was falling asleep in his bedroom when mom came in. She had something behind her back. I asked her if you were alright and she took your bear from behind her and put it on the bed next to me. She told me that you wanted me to have it. I grabbed it and I started to cry. I asked mom when you were coming home and I don’t remember what she said, but I knew you weren’t.

I used to think about you a lot. I had the cassette tapes you made about computer programing. I assumed you made them for your job at Hugh’s Aircraft. I do remember playing moon patrol on the computer in your room. I remember one night after Mark and mom had married I was listening to your voice on my radio in my room. My friend Amanda had come over and I played it for her. As she listened all I could do was cry.

I don’t think about you as much as I used to and that makes me sad. I feel like I am losing you, and it’s sometimes hard for me to remember what you looked like. I saw a picture of you that mom had on her nightstand and for a moment I didn’t know who you were, you were so skinny in the picture and I remember you being so warm and full of life. I know now that was probably the chemo that did that to you. I’m so sorry that you suffered so much, and I wanted to thank you for everything you did for my mom and I.

So, back to that question. Why couldn’t I see you in the hospital? I know there was no way for you to know it then but I couldn’t let your bear out of my sight. I dragged it around with me forever. I slept with it every night till I was about fourteen, and even then it was hard to give up. I was constantly squishing its hard leather nose like I did in your bedroom, and I would always fix it like you used to, I didn’t want you to know I was playing with it when you weren’t around. When I left home at 15 I left your bear with mom, and told Mikayla to take care of it for me. Years later I saw it again and Kayla had forgotten it was mine and thought her godmother had given it to her. And I never saw it again.

I never got to say goodbye to that bear Gran, or you. When you died I was about five. Ten years later I still never got the closure I missed when you passed. Fifteen years after that I still haven’t  had the chance to tell you that I love you Gran, and to thank you so very much for the bear. I’m sorry I didn’t take better care of it for you.

Love always,

Your grandson

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31 Days of Journaling

Yes, journaling, like a diary for a man. I often visit a site called artofmanliness.com to help improve my manly skills. I know, I’m already a ruggedly handsome gentleman with manliness in spades, but everyone has to brush up on their skills occasionally and as they say, practice makes perfect.
So if you followed the link I posted you will get a basic idea of the challenge. Jumpstart the habit of journaling by following the 31 days of journaling challenge. As I said in my podcast I wrote profusely as a child, all about the problems a child has like getting picked on in school, not getting what I wanted for christmas, or not being able to stay up late and watch Married with Children.
As I grew into my teen years I discovered Poe and goth, punk rock, and the Smashing Pumpkins so a lot of that period of writing turned into angst self-loathing free associative crap, and I’ve never really been able to break that cycle.
When I read this challenge I said fuck yeah, I need something to help get me out of the writing funk I’ve been in for 20 years, I need something new to help me stimulate my creative side, get me back into the habit, and journaling sounded like the perfect resource. It’s also there to help me establish a basic routine which my wife Stephanie is constantly telling me I need to do. I’ve missed two days already.
So here’s what I am going to do, I’m going to play catch up and post to my blog at the same time. I hate writing on a computer, I never learned homerow and I still have to watch my hands as I type so I can’t live proof read. I do like that the computer will always correct my awful spelling, so two birds one stone right? I am also no editor so I’ll leave that up to you as the reader, interpret what you think I am writing and most likely that is correct.