NaNa was my grandmother, my godmother, and one of my favorite playmates when I was growing up. She lived only five miles away from me, so I spent a significant amount of time at her house. The time we spent together was used for playing games, coloring, drawing, singing, dancing, telling stories, and laughing. I probably saw NaNa at least once a week when one of us wasn’t on vacation.
To communicate my appreciation for our relationship(s) when I was young, I drew lots of pictures and made lots of cards for her on special occasions, or “just because.” As I got older, when one of us was somewhere else, we would write letters to each other to maintain our connection and sometimes share silly doodles. When I went away to college, I continued writing to keep NaNa updated on my “fascinating” life.
I loved everything about NaNa, except for her habit of saving everything I made for her. I found that embarrassing and couldn’t understand why she would save the dumb things I made. Even though I was extremely creative, I couldn’t come up with a single reason why there would be any value in the stuff from me that she hoarded.
The exchange of letters and artwork continued into adulthood and only stopped when NaNa died ten years ago. It poked a hole in my creative soul to lose the recipient of some of my best work. She had been a key source of inspiration for me to be as inventive and entertaining as I could possibly be.
Recently my Dad gave me a box full of stuff I made that was at NaNa’s house when she died. At first I thought the contents would be pretty boring material to go through. But, I found that the container my dad gave me was actually a time capsule. Letters and drawings took me back to a place where I could reconnect with my younger self. I had forgotten a lot about that funny and creative girl. I had previously recalled the essence of who I was in my earlier years, but my handiwork that NaNa saved helped put meat on the bones of memories of me. After going through the box, I realized that I have always been a true artist, a writer, a storyteller, an observer of human behavior, and was always easily amused.
It’s so easy to feel cursed with an easily triggered sense of humor and creative skills that seem to have no value in today’s world. I feel compelled to invest my time and resources in creating, yet I haven’t received a significant amount of money or appreciation for those skills, and I don’t imagine that I ever will. But the pile of my art and writing that was found by my Dad and given to me is priceless. It tells me that I can’t help but be creative any more than I can help being easily humored. It’s genetic—or was skillfully nurtured by my creative and funny NaNa so that she could have a compatible playmate.
These creations that I made for someone else in the past, now tell me so much about myself—and the NaNa who valued me enough to treasure literally EVERY thing I made for her.
If you’d like to comment on this post, just follow this link to set up a WordPress user account: https://wordpress.com/start/delta-discover/user
© 2019 by Julie Ryan. All rights reserved
No part of this document may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of Julie Ryan