To the Woman Who Helped Make Me, Me:

Gram, I can’t believe it’s been 14 years without you. Some days it feels like so much longer but then I do something and I’m reminded of how much you shaped exactly who I am today. You are the reason for so much of who I have become. Every time I’m baking I think of all the hours we spent in your kitchen baking our favorite Angel food cake but eventually lots of other types too. Because of you, Thanksgiving is still my favorite. I cannot look at stuffing without thinking of the hours we spent rolling stuffing balls every Thanksgiving and watching “My” Thanksgiving Day parade since you were more than happy to let me believe it was mine for so many years. Every time I read a book too fast for most people to understand I’m taken back to all those days, weeks and summers spent in the library with you while you worked. Me making my massive stacks in the Children’s Section or that “Secret Spot” I found at the top of the spiral staircase with the big chair where I would devour books for hours. You introduced me to a whole new world by taking me to the library. Those many, many days spent in the library are still some of my favorite days and you will never find me without at least one book on me at any time still. Others always complain about my ever growing library when its time for us to move again. Luckily for me the boy you knew I’d marry loves the smell of a freshly opened book almost as much as us so he will never stop me from continuing to add the beautiful hardback books to my bookshelves. Thank you for making me fall in love with reading at such a young age because it’s allowed me to appreciate stories, fall in love with characters and get lost in other worlds for decades already. It’s always been an amazing escape for me but I know you already knew that.

You gave me my love for photography and appreciation of all the beautiful things by constantly pointing them out and insisting I pose in front of every flower the second you noticed they were blooming. For some reason, I never got sick of being your little model and I loved to go for our walks around the farm looking for the best places to take our next photo. I always look the happiest in the photos where it was you behind the lens. You always made me feel seen, loved and special. I knew during my time with you, which was quite often, that I could never bug you because you were always happy to have me there and wanted nothing else than to spend quality time with me too.

You went through so much in your life and suffered so much loss but you still led with so much love in all that you did. You told us that your grandchildren were the loves of your life after losing Pappy and it was very obvious it was true. I was too young to realize for much of my life just how ahead of your time you were with all of the things you had accomplished in your life especially before you even met Pappy but now I’m even more amazed by you. I now cherish everything you wrote even more than I did before and I love to read your poems, stories and articles anytime I miss you. I’m so lucky I got to have you as my grandmother and as a role model to look up to even now. I’m so proud I get to be your granddaughter and I’m so happy that so many people think I’m so much like you because that’s the biggest compliment I could ever receive.

I took your advice and I married the man who’s brain challenges mine and who makes me laugh every day but you knew I would since I brought him to meet you when I was only 17. Especially since he was secretly visiting you on his own for weeks without my knowledge (or even yours some of the days when you thought he was just a nice volunteer haha) He really is the best and he makes me so happy. Kyle and I are working on a set of white wooden Christmas deer exactly like the ones you had in your front yard every year because I finally found the plans to make our own. And now we have a second spoiled rotten rescue pup who we named Stanley after you because the woman who emailed me to tell me he was unexpectedly still available on my birthday last year had your name and I know it wasn’t a coincidence. I needed Stanny just like I needed Addie and he’s been hard work but he’s also completed our family. His name fits him perfectly by the way but I’m sure you already knew that.

The white wooden Christmas deer.❤️

There’s a line in one of your poems I’ll never forget, I know you wrote it for Pappy but for me, it’s now about you. “Engraved forever within my heart is the love you gave to me” I love you so much Gram and I’m so thankful for the almost 19 years I got to have you guide me in life and make me who I am today. ❤️

I miss you always but I know you are never too far away.. I simply have to look a little harder now. I know I’ll never be able to say thank you enough for everything you gave me and all the ways you help me even now. I love you more than all the fresh blooming flowers on all the perfect Spring days we spent together.

My senior prom & our last photo together. You made sure to dress to match.

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