Once we received a printed thank you card for a gift we took to a wedding we attended. It said something like, “Words cannot express how much it meant to have you at our wedding. And thank you for your thoughtful gift.” I’m not kidding–that was IT! Not even a handwritten signature.
Well, just because words cannot fully express our gratitude doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. I’ve written thousands of thank you notes–four wedding showers, a wedding, and five kids with, I believe, seven showers all together generate a lot of gifts, not to mention birthdays and Christmases–and I’ll be writing more in the days to come, although not for awhile yet. And I am also going to make as many grateful posts as I can here, both to provide some relief from all the gloom I am dishing up, and to keep up my own spirits.
Because despite what some people have indicated by their kind comments, I don’t really feel like a person with a positive attitude right now. The fact is I feel very, very sorry for myself and my family right now. Without mincing words, this is a terrible experience. More on that later.
But the kindness of so many people does help. It really does, as do the many prayers which are holding us up at this time. Today I want to highlight two especially thoughtful gestures.
My grandmother–Mima–loved to crochet. Even after her first stroke she was able to continue with this favorite hobby. Mima made afghans for all of us when we were children, she made them for our weddings, and she made them for her great-grandchildren. She gave them to friends as wedding and baby gifts as well. She always had a spare one on hand if you needed a quick wedding present. She made baby ones for the Ladies of Charity layettes. And she used her leftover yarn to make lap rugs for old people in nursing homes–she said the loudest, tackiest combinations were the ones in most demand.
Two weeks ago, I had close to twenty afghans that Mima had made–two from my childhood beds, a crib blanket and a soft one to wrap a baby in for my first four children (pink, blue, yellow, and green), the two she made for me to use at Georgetown, the one she made for my wedding and the last one that she made to match my wallpaper in my old house, and the ones she had made for Jake and Teddy.
After the fire, I had two: one that Emily has with her at Spring Hill, and one that was undamaged by water or smoke in Lorelei’s room.
A couple of days ago I received a Facebook message from someone I went all the way through grade school and high school with. Susan was two years ahead of me. I have not actually seen her in person, I don’t think, since high school, but after Mima’s first stroke she was her speech therapist, and my family thought very highly of her.
Mima had given her an afghan for her baby and one for her own bed, and she wanted to give them back to me. “They belong with you now,” she wrote.
On that same day, Jake received a very special and moving treat from a 5th grade class at Sacred Heart Cathedral School, where Lorelei is in first grade. The kids had heard about the fire, of course, and because their teacher is the mother of one of Jake’s friends, they heard about Jake. They decided they wanted to do something special just for him. So he was taken to SHCS after school, not knowing why, and surprised with cupcakes and a poster and one of those giant checks like in the sweepstakes pictures. One of the little kids had actually donated his own $50 birthday gift card (Jake wanted to give that back but the child was absent.). They had stayed after school just so they could surprise him. He was so delighted and touched.
Materially speaking, Jake of all the kids lost the most in the fire. Emily’s room was entirely burned but she had a lot of things with her. Jake’s was the only one of the downstairs bedrooms to burn and the only things to be recovered were two watches on his closet shelf–one of them John’s father’s so that was actually a pretty big deal. Jake collects knives and he got two of those, plus a book and a record album, out of the den in the basement, soot-covered but undamaged otherwise. He had a habit of putting his things upstairs where he could easily find them in the morning, and his clothes were all sitting on the sofa in the living room waiting to be folded, so all of it was burned.
And unlike Teddy, who has reached a state of enlightenment (his words) and doesn’t care about personal possessions, Jake does care. He likes nice clothes and had been working to assemble a wardrobe. Yesterday a very happy Jake went to Kohl’s with us and bought shoes and a jacket. He will probably go shopping again today.