Dear Tortilla & Monkey,
You’re so lucky to have so much family in your life. You have so many grandparents, aunts, uncles and already have a cousin as well. Not only that, but they’re all involved and love you both to pieces. When I was young, I really wanted to have a large family. I wanted aunts and uncles to hang out with. I wanted cousins to have sleepovers with.
Unfortunately, the extended family I seemed to feel the closest connections with left me too soon. I have fond memories of dressing up paper dolls with my Aunt Jeananne and loved counting pennies and reading stories with my Papa. I fondly remember getting matching hair wraps in Israel with Stacy, trying on Debra’s clothes and feeling for a second like I was as cool as she was and singing “Purple Rain” drunk in Mexico with Bruce. These relationships were all too short-lived and because of that, all these memories are often too painful to recall because I miss them all. I miss them all very much. By the time I got married, it was just Nahna, Papa and Great Gramhoff. Luckily, I married into a very loving, arms wide open family that is just that – family. It’s a wonderful feeling and I love sharing that feeling with you both.
I am so lucky to have had my Gramhoff in my life for 33 years. I’m so happy I had the opportunity to share the 3 most important people in my life with her and her with them.
You won’t remember her and that’s okay. Dylan, you were 3 when she passed and Mia you were 1. But, you’ll also never forget her because I hope to carry on the selflessness, love and care she showed me to you. I could tell you stories of going to the park with Gramhoff, Angel’s attic, weekly dinners while I was at UCLA or making her spider candies but those are just backgrounds to the person she was. No matter what we did, I felt like the most important thing to her. I never wanted more from her – she gave me everything – time, focus and appreciation. She was always happy to see me, always reminding me that she was proud of me, that she loved me, never asking more/less and always there. Even on the last day I saw her, before she passed and couldn’t talk. I asked her, “are you okay? are you scared?” She couldn’t speak but shook her head and pointed her finger at me with her eyebrows up. Even hours before she passed, she gave her focus to me and how I was feeling.
In many ways, I hope to be like her. I hope to give you both the focus and attention you deserve, not just as kids but as teens and adults. I never questioned how important I was to her and I hope to never give you any reason to question it yourself. I can’t quite remember what Angel’s Attic/the park with the big rock/the countless Westwood restaurants we frequented/her home looked like but I can remember my Gramhoff in each of them – her calm demeanor, her gold chain necklace with 3 gold rings, her cardigan sweaters and the picture of the yarn-sewn vegetable basket looking down at us from the dining room table.
As you get older, I hope that when you think to yourself, “mommy, you remind me of someone and I can’t quite put my finger on it” that’s it’s the small memory you have of your great gramhoff.