In spite of our 59 year age difference, my grandfather and I had a fairly tight bond throughout my entire life. I’m forever thankful that we lived in Miami close to my dad’s family in my early childhood, because that helped to establish a solid foundation and friendship between my grandparents and me. Even after we moved, my grandfather and I started a pen-pal friendship, exchanging hand-written letters every few weeks. I have no memory of when or how this first started – I’ve been digging through my boxes trying to find all of our letters, and the oldest letter I have dates to my first year of college 11 years ago, though I’m fairly certain we started earlier than that.
These letters were mostly mundane, updating each other on the weather in our respective states (the man loved watching the Weather Channel), me telling him about my latest travels, and him sending me truly terrible print-out jokes from the internet (you know, the type old people get forwarded to them in an email chain?). I was always truly stumped by how my grandpa got those, since the man has neither a computer nor any access to the internet in his home.
Most of all, we shared what books we were reading, especially if we thought the other would like it. I have a secret shame that most of my book habits aren’t very grandpa-friendly – grandpas like serious, weighty tomes, not lightweight frills about fantasy worlds. Most of the time, I ignored his book recommendations for being too serious for me. Now, in his memory, I’m going to trove through my shoebox full of letters (thank god for past Kristen saving them) and start a series on Grandfather Books.
There’s a lot of good stuff to be said about the internet (and believe me, I bitched and moaned anytime I went to their house and had to be without WiFi), but today I am thankful that I have those letters. I will forever have his writing, his updates on how his backyard squirrels were doing, his terrible jokes, and over and over again the letter sign-off, “love you, gal.”