I am blessed to be part of a family of very creative and talented people. We have musicians, dress makers, gardeners, quilters, stone masons, blacksmiths, and writers. Today I am going to focus on one writer in particular who inspired her some of her grandchildren to become writers about what they were passionate about also.
Awhile back, while visiting with my Uncle Mo, I mentioned a book that I remembered that his mother, my Grambunny, wrote. I told him about how the book she sent my mother had somehow gotten lost when my parents moved to Montana and that I had been looking online, but could not find a copy of it. He told me that he had multiple copies of it and would love to send me a few. Saturday, a package arrived in the mail with three copies of the tiny book. 😀
I went on facebook and thanked my uncle for sending them and told him that I was going to see if my mother wanted one of the copies. My mother saw the post and said "YES, she does". Gotta love my mom. I put one of the copies in the tote that I am taking to Montana next month so that I don't forget it.
My Grambunny, always looking for a creative outlet, decided to write a small book and self publish it about pumpkin carving. She wrote this little book in 1971 and it sold for .25 at various little stores and fruit and veggie stands in her area.
The book itself was written and illustrated in Grambunny's wonderful and quirky style. It's like having a conversation with her and how where others may see imperfections, she sees possibilities for creating something unique and fun. Grambunny saw people in the same way, we are all flawed in one respect of another, but that is not a bad thing. Everyone is unique and has something special to offer the world.
Grambunny was a survivor and no matter what bad things were thrown her way, she handled them with grace, on her own terms and made the best of it. She left a bad marriage with her 3 young sons and then got remarried to my Grandpop. Always one for an adventure, they moved to Hawaii and pastored a church there. My uncles grew up being some of the few "white kids" living there at the time and quickly fell in love with the people, the music, the food and the lifestyle Hawaii offered. So did Grambunny!
Later in life, when my Grandpop became an alcoholic, my Grambunny tried to help him overcome it and when things got too bad, she bravely made the decision to separate from him until he got his act together and stopped his self destructive behavior. We were all very supportive of her for doing so. They later reconciled when he finally stopped drinking. After he passed away, Grambunny, in her own wonderful way, filled her home with music, friends, family and laughter once again. I always made sure to have a layover and spend some time with her when I would fly back and forth to college from Hawaii.
I will never forget a letter that I got in the mail from her that started with "Do you want to see my scar?". In it she told me that she had lung cancer and that it has spread. She knew that she had little time left and had opted not to have any chemo or radiation that would prolong her life but leave her too ill to enjoy what time she did had. So, in typical Grambunny style, she decided to do a "farewell tour" while she still could and visit as many of her friends and family possible. She came to see my husband and I and meet her great grandchildren. She took such delight in playing with all 3 of them. Jaysn was a toddler and the twins were just babies. I watched her soak in all those moments and make great memories for herself and also for my husband and I. As I hugged and kissed her goodbye, I knew it would be the last time that I saw her in person. I told her how much her visit meant to all of us and how much she enriched my life, how much I loved her and how much I would miss her. She told me that she had led a wonderful life, full of adventures and love and that this was just the start of a new one. She wanted me to focus on all the good, soak in every beautiful moment that life had to offer and to create the kind of life that I wanted for my family. She left me with a hug, kiss, lots of I love yous and told me she was so proud of me. As she pulled out of our driveway she did so with a huge smile on her face as she was off to see my Uncle Mo and his family. I will never forget that, her or the gift that she was to all of us.
Her willing to take risks and pursue her passions were not lost on the rest of us. She inspired two of my cousins to not only pursue their passion about food, but to write about it. My cousin Andy opened Thai restaurants across the country, is a James Beard award winner and has published 2 cook books with another on the way. He has also created a line of Thai foods and drinks that are now available to buy to use at home. My cousin Marissa is a canning food expert and teacher who has also published 3 cookbooks and just finished another one. She started out as a blogger and built a huge following and got book deals out of that. She was someone who never let fear or shelf doubt hold her back, she just plowed on forward and did what she loved, found a way to make it happen and set a wonderful example for the rest of us. As for the writers in our family, Grambunny paved the way with just a tiny self published book. It was yet another gift that she left for us and for future generations.
I think this last paragraph in her books sums up the way she lived her life so well...