In my story last month, I talked about my Grandma Marie’s health condition and her ongoing battle with Dementia/Alzheimer’s. Due to this, our family has been helping her husband sort through her things and CLOTHES! The woman has always been a sharp dresser, and her seeing her closet, you would understand why. She must not have ever worn the same outfit twice!
In all of this sorting, her husband Jack found and delivered to me a most precious and unexpected gift. There was a tattered envelope that said "Age" (my nickname) on the front in my Grandma’s elegant cursive handwriting. With the waves of emotions that I have been feeling about her condition, I paused before opening it. Was it a letter? Photographs? What would I find?
I carefully opened the envelope and found two more envelopes stuffed inside. Two $100 United States Savings Bonds in my name: one from my Grandma Marie, and one from my Grandpa Oliver. Instantly tears were running down my face.
I thought back to my childhood days and how ”poor” we were. How ”poor” everyone was. Better yet, how ”poor” we THOUGHT we were. (I used the quotes to denounce the idea of poor as a colonized ideal. As I’ve gotten older, I have realized that as a family and as spiritual beings, we lacked nothing. We had a home, we had love, and we had each other.) This made this gift all the more special and meaningful.
Immediately upon opening the envelope, I felt their immense love. I thought to myself; these two people, with six children of their own, found it in their heart — and in their finances — to set aside a little bit of money for me. Back then, this was not a little bit of money either, considering their backgrounds. My Grandmother made it to the 5th grade, my Grandpa even less than that, and they both worked hard and secured a ”decent” (colonized standards) life for themselves and their family in a world and broader community that did not want them to succeed.
I thought back on the way that they took care of me. I thought about the ways that they always made me feel loved. How they showed up when I needed them. How they were there to talk me through the hard times of growing up. This was just another layer to that love. Though my Grandpa passed on over 17 years ago, I am still in awe and brightly aware of their effects on my life as I grow older and realize their lessons. Never did I think that they would have had the means to give to me in this way, but they most definitely did.
So here I am, at 36 years old with two savings bonds worth about $1,000 each. I pondered to myself what to do with this extra money. I still haven’t cashed them. Then it came to me: I am not in a place of major financial stress at the moment, and I wanted to pay their love forward. So in the next few weeks, I plan on getting new savings bonds with that money in my children’s names. What better way could I continue their care and love and nurture that small seed they planted over 30 years ago?
I wonder what they hoped for when they went to the bank that day. I wish I could ask my Grandma that question now, but her condition doesn’t really make that possible. I wonder if they thought that I would be in a position to appreciate it as deeply as I do. To treasure their small investment in the way that I am able. To spend it on another loving investment instead of desperation, addiction, or foolishly. I’m sure at points in my growing up, I definitely made them think that might happen. Now, I just hope they’re proud.
In some ways, this almost feels like caring for a seed and then a plant entrusted to me in a way. There is a line in the musical "Hamilton" that talks about legacy, and it says, "Legacy. What is a legacy? It’s planting seeds in a garden you never get to see." More than 30 years after the small monetary seeds that my grandparents planted for me, I will now, in their honor, replant them and help them blossom and flourish further with the hopes and wishes for the future they hoped for me, but now sharing the love further down our family line.