I finally tackled the box of pictures in your room. We have been in the new house almost two months now. I figured it was time to finish hanging them.
That’s when I saw it. The message.
A little note your PawPaw wrote on the back of the frame.
I instantly burst into tears. Large, crocodile tears literally flew off my face. You looked up at me with concern and confusion. I told you I missed my daddy. Even though you are too small to understand what that meant you knew mommy was sad. You hugged me gently and mumbled sweet toddler jibber jabber.
At our old house, PawPaw helped me get your nursery ready. We put the crib together. His body tired and frail from from chemo, and my body large and awkward from pregnancy. What a pair we made trying to put that crib together!
He also went with me to the flea market where we found your dresser and talked the seller down to a better price.
We spray painted all 26 letters of the alphabet with a second and third coat of white because you were my first baby and I had the “everything must be perfectly perfect” syndrome mommies often get.
One day he called and told me he had three frames in his garage and asked if I wanted them for your room. He said they would “need a little lovin”.
Well that was an understatement.
They were a hideous gold color and the glass was missing in all of them. The paintings inside were of dogs and ugly children on cloth. The backing was cardboard.
They would be perfect in your nursery he said. After a little lovin of course.
There’s no telling where he got them.
A flea market? The Goodwill? A nursing home’s yard sale?
I actually think he told me where he found them, but my pregnancy ate several brain cells so I simply cannot remember.
It would’ve been easy to throw them away and buy a set of new white frames at Target for $20. But I have too much of my daddy in me. I can’t resist a project. Especially when it’s cheap and involves spray paint.
So we sprayed them white, went to Lowe’s and had glass cut, and I put our maternity pictures in them. We hung them on the wall next to the rocker.
Every time I rocked you in the nursery I looked up and saw those frames. A sweet reminder of when I carried you inside. But also a reminder of your PawPaw who helped me hang most of the pictures on your walls.
His birthday is in a few days. September 8. He would have been 65.
The ache in my heart is so deep I struggle to find words to explain.
Knowing he is cancer free and no longer suffering is great. For him.
I’m happy for him.
I am not happy for me. For my sisters. For my mother. For you and Lincoln.
When I saw his little note to you on the back of the frame I realized there would be no more little notes from him. Is it possible to miss someone’s writing? I think yes. Oh what I would give to get another note from him! In his scribbly little writing. Half capital, half lowercase and often misspelled.
It was typical for him to clean out my car when he came over. One day I reached in my console to grab a pen and found an old CD case. He had written a note on the back.
I found it again after he died and it put me in a sad slump for nearly three days.
Your PawPaw was an incredible man. I still cannot believe he’s gone and there will be no more memories made with him. If I think about it too long my sadness turns into bitterness. Bitterness doesn’t look good on mommy.
So I remind myself AGAIN to be grateful.
For the time I had with him. For the memories we made. For the love he poured into me.
For the countless cards and letters he gave me growing up.
And for the notes he wrote to you.
When we were trying to decide on your middle name, he gave me this list. Clearly you can see how silly he was.
He was known to put random items on the heads of his grandchildren. You were no exception. He sent me this picture one day while I was at school.
Below are pictures of some notes we found in his dresser after he died.
He loved you Neala. He held you as a baby and would stare at you for hours. He snuggled with you on the couch on Sunday afternoons. He kissed your face and whispered your name every time he saw you.
When I’m patient. When I’m witty. When I don’t quit at something even when it’s difficult. I want you to know I got those qualities from him.
Now that you’re getting older, your personality is really starting to emerge. You are quirky and love getting your hands dirty. You are sweet and silly and loved by everyone.
It makes me catch glimpses of him in you.