Good bye. I know that you are ready and that it is all of us—your children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren—who are not ready to say good bye. All month I have been writing this last letter to you in my head. There is so much I want to say that it has been difficult to start putting my works into sentences. You have been such a strong influence in my life and I have never told you how much being your granddaughter has shaped me. Your example taught me how to be independent. You taught me to be someone you would be proud of.
During our summer weeks with you I learned so much. I learned to crochet, knit with double pointed needles, sew an even seam, quilt, and cross stitch at your side. You taught so many other crafts, too. Most important, you taught me to value the work of my own hands and the work of others' hands. I am still puzzled by your crochet pot holders even though you have showed me how to make them many times. I will need to deconstruct one of mine before it falls apart to master the magic pattern since you will not be making any more.
You taught all of us grandchildren so many ways to play cards. We learned how to count change and analyze everyone elses' hands around your kitchen table. You taught us solitaire, too. To this day, I can entertain myself for hours with a deck of cards, a book of puzzles, or some sticks (or a hook) and some string.
I learned to bake break, make cookies, and scramble eggs in your kitchen. I still remember the tins of holiday treats on your back porch every December. I am so happy that we collected your recipes years ago.
As Betsy, Joel, and I have talked about our memories of you this week, we return to the same themes. Through your example and gentle lessons we learned tolerance, faith, and respect for all the earth. We learned about love and family and friendship. We learned the importance of saying thank you. We learned about history from the stories of your childhood in Iowa and visits to the Chippewa Valley Museum, Pepin and Downsville. We learned how to take care of ourselves and others. We learned how breakfast could be a special event thanks to our own tiny boxes of the cereals that Mom would never buy for us. Through $5.00 in our pockets and a trip to KMart, you taught us to plan and budget—Should I spend my week's money on craft supplies or snacks? What craft do I want to learn this week? In short, you taught us almost everything we know about living a good life.
I will miss you every time I pick up a crochet hook, make little x-es on aida cloth, or bake Jule Kage and gingersnaps.