I found it in a manilla envelope marked "Important" in my mother-in-law's small, neat handwriting. It's a book called Love Notes, and the o's in the title are little red hearts, and there's a big heart stamped and ready to be filled on every page.
"I think my Grandma is the best Grandma in the hole, wide world," it begins, a crayon drawing of Grandma inside the heart, too, eyes bright blue, a big smile on her face.
"Why is Grandma nice?" And there's a drawing of a bluebird.
"I love my Grandma!" And there's a heart within a heart.
"A Grandma is made out of sugar, spice, and everything nice. Plus neatness in her house!" And there's a picture of a neatly made bed. And on it goes, 100 pages and 100 different ways of saying, I love you.
My daughter, Julie, who is now 33, made this book for her grandmother many years ago. I don't remember her doing it, or my taking it from her grandmother's house and saving it. But here it is, proof that love lives on.
Show and Tell
I knew that my children loved their grandmother. When they were little they begged to sleep at her house and eat at her table and ride in the car with her, no matter where she was going. Being with Grandma was all they cared about. She told them stories. She let them poke through her bureau drawers and unwrap souvenirs she saved from trips she’d taken. She let my daughters prance around in her fur stole. She made them tea with honey whenever they asked and she bought them Pepperidge Farm Milano cookies. Even when they were grown up, in high school and college, then gone, they'd come home and sit at her table and listen to her stories and eat Milano cookies and drive her to the hairdresser, or wherever else she wanted to go.
I knew they shared a bond. But what I didn’t know then, what I didn’t understand until I became a grandmother myself, was the depth of that bond. Because I couldn't know how much she loved them back.
She so obviously treasured her book, Love Notes. She saved it. She labeled it. Those sayings were dear to her heart: "Love is a many splen-dered thing! Cause of Grandma." "Grandma and love are two different words. But in a sentence, quite the same." "Grandmas are made out of fun."
Poets have written fancier. Musicians have crooned and screamed and rocked and rapped. The greeting card companies have made an industry of love.
But here in the earnest, misspelled words of a child, is the pure and quiet love that exists between grandparents and grandchildren.
The old joke about why grandparents and grandchildren get along — because they have the same enemy?
That’s not the reason.
They get along because grandparents and grandchildren accept each other. I love you, we say, not just on Valentine’s Day but every day.
I love you, just the way you are.
Tell us! What do you save from your grandchildren and why? Respond in the Comments area below.
How well do you get along with your grandchild and other family members? Want to know if your personalities mesh?Find out here.