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In a storage bin in a back closet, I recently found a thin beige box illustrated with vintage designs of bunnies, sailboats and other toys. Inside was my baby book from 1946.

I leafed through the pages, smiling as I read the sparse comments in my mother’s handwriting. “First began to sit up, 4 mos. Walk around furniture, week of Sept. 1. First word, ‘Ouch’, August 25.”

Then I unfolded the treasure I had never seen before, a note from my 81-year-old grandfather, written in his shaky hand when I was five months old. My throat tightened with emotion as I stared at the small piece of yellowed notepaper.  What was he like? Why would an old man write a message to a five-month-old baby? I wish I could have known him.

The Note

Portland, Mar 20 / 47

My Dear Carolyn

Now that you are growing to be such a big girl and are taking sitting-up exercises, I am sure you will find these pillows useful. They are part of your Gramma Waldron’s treasured possessions (and perhaps of your Great-Gramma’s). So I am sure they will surround you with lots of loving comfort, and I know that she will look down on you as you use them and rejoice that you have them.

With love from your

Grampa Waldron


I have vague impressions of sitting on Grampa’s lap, feeling safe and loved, as I searched his pockets for the small treat he always brought me, his youngest grandchild. I did not have the privilege of knowing Gramma Waldron, as she died during my mother’s pregnancy, and was unaware of my impending arrival. Sadly, I have no memory of the pink pillows.

Grampa with my mother and siblings, shortly after Gramma passed away.

Just days after my second birthday, he joined Gramma in heaven. He had caught pneumonia while camping alone near the Rogue River in southern Oregon. He ended his life doing what he loved best, panning for gold.

How Can We Connect?

Reading this treasured note, the question comes to mind: What simple things can we do to connect to those we love, now and after we are gone?