In August we hosted the annual family reunion as we always do. Everyone graciously thanks us for doing it, but I am so grateful to them for being such an amazing family and for making the effort to come from all over the country so we can see each other.
This year I received an additional gift when my cousin turned over my grandmother's manuscripts to me. In several old boxes I found many short stories, essays and articles with my grandmother's thoughts and opinions as well as four full novels.
My grandmother lived from 1889-1978. My mother is the last of her six children born over a twenty-one year period. My grandfather died before I was born and my grandmother lived a very humble existence in a number of small apartments in a little town in Pennsylvania. I knew she was a writer and I read one or two of the handwritten novels as a teenager. I was fairly young when she died and she lived 100 miles away, so I didn't know her as well as I wished I had.
I sat down on a summer day and read page after page of her precise handwriting (and some pages typed by someone else because she did not have a typewriter) and suddenly I felt so close to her. When giving me the boxes my cousin said "You're the writer in the family, you will take care of these." Well, she was right about that. I treasure them. I learned from them and I was truly impressed by her ideas and her writing talent. She must have worked so hard on those never-to-be published novels. I complain about revising my writing, but try to imagine revising an entire novel several times by hand!
So this gift unexpectedly landed in my possession and I am very grateful for the chance to know my grandmother all over again, as an adult and a fellow writer. The photo is from the day I sorted out the manuscripts that had become a little disorganized in the boxes. I will share some of her writing soon.