Dear Grandma, sorry I was a jerk

Dear Grandma,

How are things in heaven? I know you’re up there, because you were such an angel on earth. You had those feather-soft, squishy hugs and that funny laugh and those heavenly chocolate chip cookies.

I miss you grandma, and I wanted to write you a gratitude letter. But every time I sit down, I feel a need to apologize first.

I’m sorry grandma — I’m so sorry for all the times I was a jerk.

I’m sorry for the times when I was younger, and I’d get annoyed to see your false teeth soaking in a cup in the early morning. I was annoyed because I knew that meant you would soon emerge from the bathroom with your long, wild, gray hair and your wrinkly, sunken mouth, and it would scare me because I thought you looked like a witch.

I’m sorry that I thought you were a silly old lady when you told me to be nice to my younger brother and sister and to cherish this time with them because these were the best years of my life. I’m sorry I rolled my eyes and crossed my arms and gave you a bratty smirk.

But mostly I’m sorry about the time I visited you in the convalescent hospital, when you had lost your memory; but that day you recognized me and smiled. When we had to leave your face was crestfallen and I promised I would come back and visit again the next day. But I never did.

I’m so sorry for the time Mom and I went to visit you at that damn hospital and you were so out of it. Did they give you drugs grandma? The hospital worker pulled your limp head up by your hair and said, “Oh, she’s in there alright. She knows what’s going on.” I’m sorry I just stood there in horror. I’m sorry I didn’t rush to you and hug you tight to let you know that I was there for you.

So much regret, so many tears, so many sorries.

I know that your love is big enough that you have forgiven me completely. I’m just having a harder time forgiving myself.

Grandma, I want you to know I think of you often and am so grateful for having had you in my life. I’m grateful for your quiet patience and your joy of life. I’m grateful for your unconditional love and your wide open acceptance of every person no matter how strange. Remember crazy cousin Gene? What a narcissistic fool; but he was family and you were always good to him. And when I married a man from a different faith, with a different skin-tone, you only opened your arms wider for that hug to encompass our world of differences and ease them into non-existence. You were the best role-model grandma. You lived through the depression and it gave you such a grateful disposition. You showed us how to always look on the bright side and how to focus on the good in everyone. You showed us how to value fun and joy by always looking for a reason to be happy — no matter how small.

Well, guess what grandma? Now I’m the old lady with the flowing gray hair. I think of you every time I look in the mirror and I thank you for passing on this incredible mane to me — and in appreciating my changing hair and body, I’m trying to embrace my witchiness.

Now I’m the one who tells my kids to be nice to each other and to enjoy this time because it’s the best time of their lives.

And sometimes, Grandma, I make chocolate chip cookies; and even though they will never be as good as yours, I think you’d be proud of me.

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This is my Day 9 Gratitude Practice: The Gratitude Letter. If you’d like to join our 30 Days of Gratitude Practice, learn more here.