Unicorns and a Call for Submissions
Yesterday afternoon, Linus and Mina demanded hot chocolate. Who am I to deny such a request? I decided to serve Mina’s in a special little mug with unicorns on it, as she’s following in those particular footsteps of mine. As I handed it to her, I said, “Be careful. My grandma gave this to me when I was a little girl.” This was Grandma Milly, by the way.
The kids drank their chocolate, and Mina asked, “Does your grandma live in Illinois?” Hers does, so naturally this is where all grandmas must live. I told her, “No, my grandma is dead. But I have lots of memories of when she was alive.”
We’ve tried to be really open and honest with the kids about death, and as usual we went through how all bodies age and eventually stop working – and that’s death. Nothing to be scared of.
They’ve been pretty matter-of-fact about it as well, but after this talk Mina began to cry. She was absolutely overwhelmed that I don’t get to see my grandma anymore. I held her as she wept, and she had a lot of questions. What did she look like? Where was she? etc. Of course the whole thing made me cry too, and she finally offered, “I could be your grandma. So you don’t have to be sad.”
Jeez, I’m tearing up just writing this. That little girl has more compassion than anyone I’ve ever encountered.
I showed her a photo, and that calmed her down a lot.
I’ve been reflecting since then, though. I think I’m going to make her a book about her family. She’s clearly curious and wants to understand connections, and I think it would comfort her. It’s also the sort of artifact that I’m sure a person is glad to have around later.
So. If you are reading this and you’re a James, Humphrey, Tran, or Trinh, I have a request: please consider sharing some of your favorite family photos with me. If you don’t have the means to scan them, Yen and I can help out – either by scanning them ourselves or recommending a local service. I’d also be grateful if you could share some biographical information, with bonus points for a few personal details. Aunt Joyce once told me that Grandpa Ralph (pictured up above with Grandma) used to put lots of sugar in his coffee but not stir it – so at the end of the cup he’d have a final swallow of syrup. That’s certainly not much about the man he was, but it’s a beautiful little detail the helps bring to life someone who died before I was born.
I realize I’m potentially taking on a large project here, but I think it’ll pay dividends. I hope you think so too. If you don’t have my email address, leave a comment.