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A Letter to Becky, On Her 82nd Birthday

Gram,

Usually letters like this are reserved for special, milestone birthdays and 82 might not seem that way to most people, but over the years you’ve taught me that getting through every day is a milestone.

I’ll never forget when I was younger, probably 12 or 13, you told me that when you would think about being a grandmother, your expectations were that you would see your grandchildren on holidays, birthdays, etc and that would be that. In practice, things were much different. Not only did you see us more but you loved us in ways you couldn’t have imagined possible. The closeness you had to each of us was palpable. You thought being a parent had been fulfilling enough but you never imagined the fulfillment you’d get from being a grandmother.

I’ve never forgotten that conversation and I think all of us are extremely lucky that you are who you are. You’re not a typical grandma, but I don’t really need to tell you that.

You were a big proponent of self care, before it became a catchphrase. Though your version had more to do with eating ice cream for breakfast than foam rolling sore muscles.

You’ve let us call you Becky for as long as I can remember, Rebecca if we really need your attention, or in frustration. It never seemed to bother you and it always made me feel like I was on level ground with you. Equals.

Somewhere around high school, you trusted me to keep secrets. Don’t tell your parents your Aunt Pat and I let you drink in Kentucky, they’ll never let you come back. As I’m packing to join you in KY once again, I’m really only bringing what I know you consider priority essentials. A bikini and alcohol.

In college, getting cards from you was a highlight for my roommates and I. You never knew what they were going to contain – thong underwear seemed to be one of your go to items, I guess because it could fit into an envelope easily. I can only imagine the look on a salesperson’s face when you were purchasing them.

You never shy away from playing along with my shenanigans – most recently when I asked you, for the benefit of the woman eavesdropping in CVS, if you were pregnant or nursing. With a straight face you told me not this week. Nosy lady huffed away. You told me I was being bad, while laughing.  

I’ve heard you say time and time again you’re not afraid to die and you’re quite at peace with the idea. That makes me squirm.  I can’t imagine a world that I live in that you don’t. You being gone will level me. I thought my pillar of strength, my Life Hostage, would be there to keep me vertical but seeing you fall in love with him as much as I have – knowing the feeling is mutual for him – I think it will level him too.

The apples don’t fall far from our family trees. People have told me that time and time again. You know what I say? Jealous much? There are approximately 1.3 billion worse things in this life that I could turn into than being even an ounce of the person you are. While there are many days I don’t appreciate the thighs you gave me, there are just as many days that I couldn’t be more grateful for all the gifts you have given me – courage, strength, love, patience, sarcasm – to name a few.

Rebecca, on your 82nd birthday, I can honestly say I couldn’t be more proud of the grandmother you’ve become and I can’t be any happier to be able to be one of your absolute blessings in this life. You will always be a blessing in mine.

All The Love In My Heart,

Rachel

Rachel Olszewski

A hot mess held together on a daily basis by dry shampoo and probiotics, Rachel is still trying to figure out what she wants to be when she grows up but for now is a communications professional by trade. A true Chicagoan through and through, she is an East Coast transplant trying to set down roots. Although the height of her high heels may be getting shorter, Rachel’s expectations are not getting lower and she is on a mission to change the world one person at a time.

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