Short, Sweet, and Worth Holding Onto
Giftsin24.com and Samara O’Shea are pleased to announce the winner of their National Card and Letter Writing Month Essay Contest.
Don Blankenship was a bit of a trouble maker in his youth. Looking back, he’ll willingly admit that he was hungry for attention, but I’m sure at the time he would have said no such thing. It’s safe to assume that he was not the type of teenager who would have been moved by a letter from his grandmother. Why then, all these years later, does he still hold tightly to a simple missive she wrote to him in honor of his graduating from high school? It was his thorough explanation of his relationship with his grandmother’s letter that moved us. His story is a great reminder of the power of retrospect. It is a gift to look back at a situation and see it with new eyes. It’s how we uncover ourselves. We are pleased to share with you Don’s winning essay and his grandmother’s letter.
Letter from a Poignant Pen
By Don Blankenship
At the time, it didn’t seem like much, a handwritten note scribbled on rose colored stationary. Gripped with the excitement of my impending high school graduation, I nonchalantly tucked it into a shoe box in my closet. When things died down, I would make the time to send the obligatory thank-you note. After all, my grandmother would understand. She knew how I had worked for this moment, and she would want me to take the time to revel in my success. Her closing lines had summarized this fact so succinctly: “Remember to stop and enjoy the view, but never dally too long, there are other mountains to climb. You, dear one, are among the best of mountaineers.”
Characteristic of her lighthearted sense of humor, she had made a reference to my West Virginia heritage. In the Mountain State, I had grown-up surrounded by my large immediate family: two brothers, two sisters, and myself. My parents worked diligently to meet our necessities, and as the family’s self proclaimed teenage rebel, I hadn’t made their lives easy. I was constantly skipping school, falling in with the wrong crowd, and testing any authority figure that would muster the courage to produce a challenge. My younger years were driven by vain attempts for attention-a product of intense sibling rivalry. I craved the spotlight and was less than reticent in securing its glow.
My grandmother, who lived several hours away in Northern Ohio, had sensed this longing. Although our relationship had consisted of a few stolen moments during school breaks and on holidays, somehow, she had a special way of making me feel important. At times, it seemed as if I was the only person in her world. My success and happiness took precedent above her personal indulgences. Freely she offered devotion, and as a young egotist, I satiated myself in her attention. Of course, a milestone such as my graduation would warrant a written response. While the letter wasn’t particularly lengthy, I could almost feel the emotion emanate from its pages.
I never got around to writing that thank you letter. Grandma died that summer of cardiovascular disease; however, the letter she wrote is no longer relegated to the recesses of my closet. It sits neatly folded in a decorative glass jar on my nightstand. When the obstacles seem too multiple to bear or my heart is filled with bliss over life’s numerous joys, I remove the letter and savor its wisdom. It comforted me with the death of a close aunt, and I chuckled as I read it the day I graduated from college. Somewhere located in those few scrawled lines her spirit lives, continuing to reach out with so much consideration left to give.
Congratulations on your graduation. I knew you could do it! Unfortunately, I cannot be there to watch you walk across the stage, but know that I am rooting for you. You have made me very proud.
It seems that only yesterday you were a baby, and now you are crossing one of life’s major milestones. Education is the stepping stone on the path to greatness, and you are well on your way. Remember to stop and enjoy the view, but never dally too long, there are mountains to climb. You, dear one, are among the best of mountaineers.
With much love,