Tuesday, August 11, 2009

ten dollars

When I got home last night from work, I grabbed the mail that had arrived and found two envelopes. Both were cards from my grandparents (father's side). One to DF and I for our wedding and one to me for my birthday.

My grandparents are simple, salt of the earth folks. Grandma is the daughter of Italian immigrants, raised in a series of foster homes and married young to get away from it all. Grandpa signed up for the Army at 18 and caught the very tail-end of World War 2 before coming back to settle down with Grammy. He worked in a factory job for his adult life before being laid off right before his retirement would kick in. Grandma raised 5 kids including a youngest son that was born with birth defects that meant he spent most of his childhood in and out of hospitals having surgery. If it weren't for the Shriners, my uncle probably would not be able to walk.

My memories of my grandparents come mainly from letters and pictures and from my dad's stories. My family lived across the planet and didn't get to visit more than for a week or so every four or five years. I remember Grandma's homemade spaghetti and meatballs (took all day to cook and made the house smell divine) and grandpa's proclivity to take out his dentures and make funny faces at us. Grandma had a job at Sears to bring in extra income and in his later years (post lay-off) Grandpa worked as a janitor to make ends meet. Now they are both in an assisted living apartment, working days finished due to the onset of old age and illness. I keep telling myself that I will drive the 10 or 12 hours up to see them, but life always gets in the way.

Ever since I can remember, right around my birthday I have received a card with a ten-dollar bill carefully taped inside. Each and every year. In Indonesia, in Mali. Even now as an adult, long after the time when I would anticipate getting anything birthday related, the cards arrive like clockwork. I know that ten dollars for each of their ten grandchildren is a sacrifice and I almost wish I could send it back and say, no please...you need this money more than I. But I am their granddaughter and this is their gift to me.


Today I have ten dollars to spend on myself. And I'm infinitely richer because of the love of my family.

14 comments:

lisabea said...

What a beautiful post, Sula. Made me cry.

You're a good granddaughter.

xx's
lb

azteclady said...

Sula, you made me cry too.

How blessed to have such love in your life!

Thank you for sharing your grandparents with us today.

Carolyn Crane (aka CJ) said...

Oh, so sweet! This is so touching.

Christine said...

Beautifully written post, Sula.

I suppose this means birthday wishes are in order? Happy Birthday and enjoy those precious $10 obviously given to you with tremendous love.

Tracy said...

Your not supposed to make me cry while at work Sula! :) That was a wonderful story and you tell it so beautifully. Enjoy your ten dollars and Happy Birthday!

Jill Sorenson said...

What a nice post! My Grandma used to send $5 for my brother and I to share. We used to laugh about the amount, but later understood what it meant to her, a Great Depression survivor who never wasted a penny.

Thanks for the reminder. :)

Wendy said...

What a lovely, lovely post. I miss my grammy.....

sula said...

aww, thank you all for your kind words. i didn't mean to make anyone cry. :)

I'm gonna go write a nice thank you note to send back to my grandparents now.

Bridget Locke said...

*sniffle*

Okay, that post was gorgeous & made me cry! :) (not sure if I should smile or frown...lol).

I've lost all but one of my grandparents. I'm not particularly close to my grandma, but every year for birthdays & Christmas, there's money in the mail for me. I feel guilty because I'm NOT close to her, but like you said, I'm her granddaughter. It's weird.

Anyway, just wanted to say that was beautiful. :) You're a wonderful person, Sula. :D

Carrie Lofty said...

*wipes tear*

Renee said...

It's gifts like that that are so wonderful in reminding us that to someone, we are still their grandchild, daughter, niece, etc, no matter how "grown up" we are to the rest of the world. Sigh. Lovely post, sula!

Rosie said...

Lovely... They'll love getting the card. When I stayed with my grandparents as an adult I remember how much they enjoyed getting the mail everyday and hearing from friends and family.

Tumperkin said...

Aw that was lovely, Sul. You make sure to spend those bucks on yourself. Put it towards those pretty shoes (I like them!).

Tumperkin said...

Aw that was lovely, Sul. You make sure to spend those bucks on yourself. Put it towards those pretty shoes (I like them!).