Last night I was enjoying the quiet of the wee morning hours. I could hear Terry snoring in the bed as I sifted through a box of things my mom gave me. There was a book of things I wrote in first grade that I can’t wait to share with my class. There were cards from my first few birthdays. I traced your signature on the cards you sent me and I traced Grandpa’s name, too.
Underneath the stack of birthday cards were items my mom brought back from your house, including the postcards you bought on our trip. The backs of the postcards were blank and I sat in our office staring at their stark backs. Tears welled in my eyes because those postcards will always be blank. I sunk to the floor, wishing for your words to trace with my fingers.
I flipped the postcards over and ran my fingers across each glossy image of the places we’d been together. It occurred to me that it was exactly three years ago to the day that you took me on that crazy bus tour for my birthday. We had such a good time, didn’t we? As I studied the postcards, I remembered the day we visited Novi Sad. Do you remember when we stopped on that bridge and I asked you to take a picture of me with the beautiful buildings in the background?
You took this:
I asked if maybe you could take another picture. One that captured the buildings and especially the clock tower in the background.
You lined the camera up carefully and took this:
I laughed and asked if you could possibly take another photo with the buildings in the background and preferably my entire head.
For a third time you lined the camera up really carefully and clicked the button, confident that you’d certainly got a good shot that time. Do you remember how hard we laughed when we saw this?
And then our bus was leaving so we never did get a decent shot of that clock tower. Gramma, you were so good at so many things, but you were an awful photographer. Just awful. And I’m so glad because each time I think of that bridge in Novi Sad, I remember how hard we laughed that day and how relieved you were when I banned you from taking photos for the rest of our trip.
Later that night, we ordered banana splits for dinner in the hotel bar. The bar was closing and you asked the waiter to take our picture. We ate and talked well into the wee hours of the morning.
Thank you for taking me on that trip. And thank you for never sending those postcards to your friends. Three years later they have come back to me, reminding me that the things we saw on our trip paled in comparison to the time we spent together.