Let me begin by admitting that I am TERRIBLE when it comes to remembering birthdays. To make matters worse, usually I don’t completely forget people’s birthdays; instead, it’s as if I have this mental glitch where I think I know when a birthday is, but inevitably I’m wrong, having mixed up someone’s birth day with another person’s birth month (or something like that!). It also doesn’t help that birthdays aren’t a big deal to me personally, which makes it a challenge for me when birthdays are super important to people in my life. Thankfully most of my friends are very forgiving of this birthday dyslexia, and for those who aren’t forgiving, let me just say again, “Sorry!” :)
Birthdays are on my mind because yesterday was my grandmother, Mrs. Emma Vance’s, birthday. (And, yes, I remembered it, although I did originally think it was today, mostly because my mom’s birthday is February 7th, Valentine’s is the 14th, and so “February 21st” inevitably gets stuck in my mind every year.) I was sad not to be there with her, especially since her companion dog, Jasmine, passed away recently. I worry about her, miss her and want to see her more often. I wish that she’d move from Orlando to Atlanta now that she’s getting older, but she has her job, her friends, her hairdresser (along with a standing appointment every Saturday morning), and her routine–so I understand.
In thinking about what to get her, I decided to help her fill her time with a hobby that she’s been dabbling in (at my urging) for a while. Secret confession: I have a love for family history and find it fascinating. There are a lot of interesting characters in my bloodline, especially on my maternal side, and so every time I visit with my grandma I make her recount hours of stories for me. A few years ago she said she started writing some of them down on a legal pad for me, and that legal pad inspired her birthday gift this year.
I call it a “Grandma Notebook,” which is exactly what it is: a notebook all about Mrs. Emma Vance. I researched a whole bunch of different interview questions, typed them up on a sticker sheet, cut them up and divided them by topic. The questions cover a range of things, from biographical information to opinions on historical events. My favorite questions are probably the ones about my mom (“What did you think of Dad the first time Mom brought him home?”) as well as about my grandma’s own childhood (“Who was your favorite sister and why?”). Then I got her a notebook, wrote a few instructions, and stuck on a few questions to get her started. After the initial pre-chosen questions, she can choose her own questions to answer, stick them at the top of a page and write away. I can’t wait for her to get started!
The truth is that although I don’t know when I’ll get this notebook back, whether it’s a year or a decade, it is sure to be one of my most prized possessions. More so, I’m sure it will be one of E.V.’s most prized possessions, the self-told story and thoughts of her very own namesake.