Monday, June 02, 2008

More than a card

Somehow June has snuck up on me and with it another Blogging for LGBT Families Day. A list of this year's posts is over at Mombian.

I expected that the card from my grandmother would contain congratulations. We had just spread the news among our families that I was pregnant. My grandmother had no computer and much preferred writing over phoning, so it wasn't a surprise to see her shaky handwriting and the return address I'd memorized long ago.

But she wrote much more than a simple note of congratulations.

My grandmother wrote that the combination of my recent announcement and a cousin's upcoming wedding had led her to think a lot about life and relationships. She hoped and expected that I already knew she considered my relationship with Trillian to be as committed as any of the married couples in our family, but she had felt compelled to tell me this explicitly. She also wrote that she wanted to mark our commitment, albeit belatedly, in a way commensurate with how she had and would celebrate the weddings of her other grandchildren.

Hers was the first "wedding" gift we ever received.

Now this particular grandmother lived in Massachusetts. Same-sex marriage became a reality there before her death. The congregation to which she belonged, a very important part of her daily life, went through a difficult time in deciding whether or not they would officiate for the weddings of same-sex couples. I heard about this second-hand, from one of my aunts; she told me that my grandmother had been a vocal proponent of their participation in these ceremonies.

A few months after my grandmother's death, I received a packet of papers and pictures. The aunt who had been given the position of "family historian" had gone through the papers from my grandmother's house and sent relevant items to each family member. I flipped through my items: my senior portrait, letters I had written to my grandparents, a picture of Scooter, a newspaper clipping from when I won some prizes in a math contest, and copies of two letters my grandmother had written. One to her local newspaper, one to her congregation. Both about how ridiculous it was to fear same-sex marriage, that nothing could take away from the marriage she'd had with my grandfather, that her granddaughter's family deserved all of the same protections.

Scooter only got to meet her once, and he probably remembers nothing of the visit. Luckily, there are moments from that time that I will never forget. One of the things I requested when it came time to divide the material goods from her house was a set of wooden nesting blocks. We had all played with them whenever we visited their house, but they gained special meaning for me. I remember my grandmother sitting in a chair as Scooter played with them. He had another wooden toy and the different blocks with their open sides facing up. He would knock the first toy around inside each block in turn, obviously paying attention to how the quality of the sound changed, depending on the size of the block. My grandmother was enraptured and exclaimed emphatically over how smart he was.

Those blocks, those letters, that card--I've kept them all. I have pictures and other things from my grandmother, but those are the items that bring back the strongest memories and make me feel a connection with her.

4 comments:

cinnamon gurl said...

That's so nice that your grandma got to meet Scooter. Mine died when I was pregnant with Swee'pea... I felt really sad about getting my letters back. I guess I'd never really thought about what happens to letters written TO a person after they die.

Vikki said...

Your grandmother sounds like an incredible woman...

Aliki2006 said...

I felt teary when I read this--the strength and character of your grandmother really shone through in this post. How wonderful that Scotter got to meet her. I feel the same way--that I am so very thankful my kids got to meet their Greek great-grandmother, even if they won't remember her, I like to think some of her will make its way into them.

Lisa b said...

This was a great post to read mouse.
What an incredible gift and wonderful woman your grandmother was.