I have been thinking about my great-grandmother, Louise Deffenbacher, (can’t sound more German then that) a lot lately. We went and saw my parents last Saturday and mom let me borrow a book called The Shell Seekers. Mom thought her grandmother had given the book to her and later I found a slip of paper explaining why she sent the book to my mom. It was lovely to see my great grandma’s words again. It was like she was right there. I did not grow up with a lot of extended family around me. Or, I should say, I was not close to either of my grandparent sets. But I adored my great-grandma Louise. She lived in the town next to ours as a small child and I have great memories of visiting her cute two story house, eating strawberries with powdered sugar, going through her junk drawer she made just for her grandkids, and taking naps up stairs. She was a lover of books and chocolate. She always looked old and never seemed to age. She really was the best. She then moved to New Jersey to be with her daughter and would visit for a week once a year until she died my eighth grade year. We would take her to the county fair, do word searches together and just catch up. We used to fight over who got to take her breakfast in her room. She would always miss place her eyeglasses and Danette and I would hunt for them.
I loved her.
I used to really dislike my middle name. I thought “Louise” sounded so old fashioned. Now that I am older I am honored to have a bit of her always with me. I was a bit saddened when I read that note left to my mom. For one I didn’t keep the letters she sent me. And, for another, no one writes letters anymore. I would love for my kids to look back someday at a letter given to them by their grandparents and be reminded of what they sounded like, how they felt about things. The Internet can do some great things but a hand written snail mailed letter is special. Really special.