Greetings from your very own granddaughter, here in stormy midlife! You were right! Everything here is the strangest stuff I ever saw in my life. Isn't it weird that this can exist in the same world as the familiar and predictable stuff back home?
This week, I remembered something you did once, and now it makes sense. We were all vacationing together down at the beach. Remember that? After everyone else was in bed, I found you in the kitchen, with just the light over the sink on, and you were standing up to eat (which was really weird - you never used to do that). You had a bowl with some kind of fiber cereal in it, and you were just pouring hot water over the top. And then you ATE it! Remember? You ate that cereal with water on it. (That's why I thought of you. This ad was in a guy's blog - isn't it funny? You should see what he wrote about it.)
I was so shocked that day you ate cereal with water on it that I asked you what on earth you were doing, and you told me to keep my voice down. And (this part has really stuck with me) you didn't explain yourself one little bit. You just looked knowingly at me, and finished your cereal (and washed your bowl and put it away, of course) and left the room.
So I thought I'd drop you a note. Now I get it. It's not just high fiber eating you were doing. Since you lived here on the vast plain with us until you were about ninety years old, and you were pretty healthy right up to that point, you must've been onto something there. But it wasn't just that. It was more than that. You subscribed to the wisdom of "never complain, never explain," and you took care of yourself. You were dignified and self-possessed about it - even when your loud mouthed granddaughter practically called in the whole family to witness. (Sorry about that, by the way.) You showed me how to be a grownup more on that day than you did any other time, but for a long time, I didn't really understand what you'd done.
So -- anyway, I just wanted to send you a note to let you know. Now that I'm about halfway through, I've finally crested a hill and I can see it too. You were one of the Travelers. From here, I can sort of see the path going off into the distance, where you went.
You didn't have any patience for the Hunker-downers, and you really got huffy with all the Armchair Know-it-alls who'd never set foot outside their own petty territories but presumed to know everything there was to know about all the other territories. You didn't try to grasp at your youth, and you didn't moan about what you'd lost when others took your stuff. And I know more of your part in my story now. Other people did take your stuff. You always seemed to us like the Person Least Likely to Welcome Surprises, but I just realized that that's crazy! You were the one who welcomed your own life and kept on traveling.
The thing is, Grandma, I never heard you talk about it. That's why I'm writing you this letter. Remember how nuts (not grape nuts! haha!) things are up here on this crest of the hill? I'm stunned nearly every day. What on earth is going on? This isn't what I thought I was planning - almost none of it is. But nothing in your life was what you'd had planned either. Most of it was a surprise. I myself was part of your surprising midlife - there - in that spot, just a little further on from where I'm spending my life right now.
So now here I am, and I'm looking around, and I see it. I see what you did. Now I can marvel at your sense of restraint when you knew your breath was wasted trying to tell anyone else what to expect from life. You can't, can you? Nobody ever believes you. And I wonder why you didn't clobber some of the other people in our family back then - or throw things or something. But you didn't. You fussed a little - but not much, really. Mostly, you just kept your wiser mouth shut.
I've remembered something else too. Remember that time I was looking at your old photo album, and I burst out laughing at the zig-zagging hemlines on the dresses you and your friends were wearing? You were just as amused at me as I was at the picture of you, and you told me, "You wait. You'll see dresses like that again." Honestly, I did not believe you. You didn't mind much that I didn't believe you -- so let me just say right now -- you were right. We've seen that hemline again.
We've seen the seasons change, as you saw the seasons change. And I have followed your example of journeying on. I try very hard never to complain, and never to explain, but only to do the job I have in my hands to do today. I've learned not to noise it abroad when I'm taking wise care of myself, and I know what goes around comes around, but sometimes people take your stuff. I've seen all that, now that I'm cresting this hill.
From here, I can almost see the place up ahead, where you left us. And today, I have been thinking to myself, when you got to this part and you experienced all of the shocks and surprised and baffling moments of the middle of your life, you didn't run back to a previous place. You went through this, and you saw even more wonderful things later on. I'm going to go back to school, Grandma. Me! (Crazy, huh?) I'm working on a book - for publication, I mean. They told us at your funeral that you'd kept your journal every day since you were seventeen. One thing's for sure. Nobody ever said you weren't disciplined. You were always the opposite of "flaky" - and I don't mean pie crust.
Speaking of which, our daughter tells us she's getting married - and we're not convinced she's ready. (Not that they're asking that question.) We want happiness and peace and beauty for our children, and now we've had enough life as a couple that we know how important roots are. But ... I don't know if you were ready either - the first time. I just know that it didn't work out for you, and if it had, I'd never have known you. So the other thing I know is that life has a way of working itself out if you just keep going. The boys are both in college now. I kind of wish you could hear them play their guitars, even though I don't think you'd like the music very much. You'd be able to hear the talent anyway. "Anyway." That's a word I associate with you. Do it anyway. I'm going to try my best to do it anyway and keep going - like you did.
Thanks for leaving some clues along the way. I'll catch up to you in another 45 years or so, probably. I hope so. From here, where you went looks amazing.