Tuesday, June 24, 2008


My dad's mom, or "Gram," as my brother and I called her, passed away when I was 21. We had always been very close, and I went to visit her in San Diego every year in addition to her treks to the Midwest to see us. I have wonderful memories of my San Diego vacations and of my time with Gram, and it was really, really hard for me when she died - especially because I was just finishing the school year and couldn't be out in CA with my parents.

One of our yearly San Diego adventures - the  San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park! source

She and I had a lot in common - loves of reading, arguing, politics, Brahms, and Scrabble. Ohhhh the Scrabble games - she taught me a lot about strategy and two-letter words. I never got to meet Gramps, who died before I was born, but Gram and her later-life companion, Ernie, played VERY competitive Scrabble every night. In fact, sometimes they went to Elderhostels that were actually Scrabble tournaments! After she died - Ernie had died several years earlier - I inherited their well-worn Scrabble board and dictionary. In the Scrabble dictionary was a letter from Ernie that began "My Love" and proceeded to describe one of the tournaments in detail. It's simultaneously hilarious, adorable, and poignant - I still look at it sometimes.

Gram's favorite game - here are some of her most-used words.

One thing I loved about Gram (and admittedly resented sometimes) was her love of winning, and she wasn't about to let her granddaughter off the hook when playing Scrabble together. I vividly remember the only time I ever beat her - we were sitting at her dining room table, eating her favorite Trader Joe's blue corn chips and silently surveying the board. When I realized I was about to win, I got a little nervous that she was going to be mad. Well......... she might not have been mad per se, but we did have a pretty quiet evening after that!

I mentioned my idea of using French beaded flowers to incorporate my mom's mom's memory (Grandma) into the wedding; Grandpa (94 and still working 2 days a week) also recently gave me Grandma's beautiful ring to use as my wedding band. But I was struggling with a creative idea for Gram - I have her beautiful star opal/yellow gold engagement ring, but I already wear that a lot. Then I was reading this post from Offbeat Bride, and I thought, "Of course! I've seen these all over Etsy!"

These charms are made from Scrabble tiles, and most sellers will work with you to incorporate your own picture. The photo side of the charm is covered with a sturdy, shiny resin. I think I'd like at least one of them - maybe a picture of Gram & Gramps, or separate pictures - to hang from my bouquet. I hope I can request specific letters so I can get her initials!

bouquet charm source

I know that some details like this will go unnoticed by most people, and that's why I love it: having that little secret makes me feel like my grandparents are there for me on our wedding day. Gram would have loved Tim, and it's always made me sad that they were never able to meet. This is a way for her to be there with the two of us... without Tim having to play Scrabble, which he hates. :-)

What creative and meaningful ways have you chosen to incorporate absent family & friends?

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