For this week’s SoulCollage® Sunday post, I want to do something a little different–and yet not so different at all. SoulCollage® includes a suit called the Community suit, which consists of cards for friends, family, pets, celebrities (my Ella Fitzgerald card is in my Community suit, for instance).
The first four Community cards I made were for my grandparents. Three of them are gone, and my remaining grandfather turned 97(!) this past week. He has declined over the five years since my grandmother died, and I’m not sure how much longer he’ll be around. Seeing him as he is now also makes it harder to remember how he used to be, much as I want to, so in honor of his birthday, I am going to read from his card today. It feels a bit experimental to me, but we’ll see what happens. ETA: I won’t lie. I had to stop a few times during this reading.
Who are you?
I am the one who loves you. I am the one who hoped you’d be a boy but was won over to the girl side pretty quickly. I am the one you think of when you see Don Draper in his suit and hat, just like I used to go to work. I am the one who made Shrinky-Dinks with you, with stinky markers that were far older than you were, and who poked the uncooperative bits of plastic into place with a knife while they were still in the oven. I am the one who told jokes all the time, and loved it when you got to be old enough to joke back. I’m a very punny fellow. I am the one who put his 35mm camera into your hands with no more care than if it were a plastic toy when you were small, and let you look through the lens and bring me into focus. I am the one who grew the best tomatoes in the world. I am the one who sent you funny emails about growing tomatoes in your bathtub or taking grandma for a ride on the highway in her wheelchair, or mailed you recipes for things I never expected you to decide to make with me. I even mailed you the recipes for root beer and ice cream that made your ancestors famous almost 100 years ago, suggesting you quit your job and make millions with the recipes instead. I am the one who spent hours at the player piano with you, playing songs you’d never heard of but eventually grew to love, so much that you have two piano rolls in your house even though you can’t play them. I am one of the very, very few people who can call you “Nan” and walk away with all my limbs intact. And I am the one who loves to make you laugh, and to laugh with you, and was pleased as punch to be crowned King Grandpa at my birthday party several years ago.
What do you have to give me?
My dear girl, I give you love. Even now, when I don’t have the attention span for a long conversation, and often can’t remember much, I love you and love to hear from you. Even though it’s tough for you to remember sometimes how I used to be, I have spent my whole life giving you memories and laughter. You know that the fact that I’m still here is an incredible gift, but you may not see all the things I’ve given you until I’m gone and you’re able to get some distance and perspective. And I give you the knowledge and understanding that that’s okay. You have been a part of me for four decades, and I will be a part of you long after you’re gone. I know you know that, but it bears repeating. You can listen to me tell stories any time you want on the recordings you made a few years ago, which you did at exactly the right time. You’re my special girl. You always will be.
What do you want/need from me?
I may not be around much longer. I know you’re ready to let go of me in some ways, but in others you may not be. I need you to know that I will never truly leave you, and that it’s okay to let go. I need you to remember me the way I was, which is hard right now, but that’ll pass. I want you to talk about me with the rest of the family and focus on the good stuff. The last few years have been rough, but there was a lot of good before then, and I know you all know it but it’s easy to forget it when faced with the now. But mostly, I need you to keep being yourself, to keep making me proud—because you couldn’t ever not make me proud, though you may not really realize that—and live a wonderful life. That’s all I’ve ever really wanted from you.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell me today?
I think I have probably said enough for now. Just remember how much your grandmother and I love you, whether we’re here or not.
SoulCollage® cards are made either from one’s own art or from images found in materials which have been bought by or given to the SoulCollage card maker.
These collaged cards are used only for the cardmaker’s own inner exploration. SoulCollage® cards are not sold, traded, bartered, or copied (except as a back-up for the cardmaker’s own use) as is stated in the Principles of SoulCollage®. Where SoulCollage® cards are available to be seen by others, it is for the purposes either of demonstrating the SoulCollage® process or of sharing the cardmaker’s inner process in the context of community. SoulCollage® is grateful to the artists and photographers who make this deep awakening process possible and in all ways SoulCollage® seeks to be respectful of their rights.