This month marks the one-year anniversary of my grandmother’s passing. She passed less than two years after her husband, my grandfather. They’ve been on my mind a lot lately. I catch my thoughts slipping into memories, like a bittersweet treat. I saw a typewriter today and thought I’d share one of the many reasons I love them so much.
When I was 15, I wanted a typewriter. I am a techie–always have been–and a writer. I take my wording quite seriously and always have.
This typewriter had a small word-processing feature on it. Not to give away my age, but this would’ve been summer of 1989. Believe me, when I tell you, this was cutting edge.
The typewriter would store one line in its memory and on the small screen. You could go back and edit that line or hit enter at the end and the line would be dashed off by the super-quick typewriting mechanism. I know it wasn’t the kind with keys that popped up for each letter. It was a grandfather to the computers that would come later and so it held the single line in memory then printed it off. There was also–and this was amazing–erasing tape. You could backspace and it would overwrite what had been written with a clear or white square.
I guess I saw this in the Sears catalog that my other grandmother would receive. (I’ve written about her before, too.) I’m not sure how much it cost. More than a hundred–less than three, I suppose. Which was exorbitant. My parents could never have afforded that. I knew I would never get it, but it was so pretty, and technologically edgy, and perfect for someone who loved words. I knew I wanted to write, though nothing so specific as being a writer had formed. I think I was too scared of how much I wanted it to give it voice.
It was my birthday in July and my grandfather showed up. Now, with my children, he was very hands on. Went to all their school functions–that sort of thing. But with me… he was the big gun. I knew he loved me fiercely and would do anything within his power for me. That was more than enough.
He brought with him a box from Sears that held my beautiful Brother typewriter/word processor. My grandmother was with him, of course. He would’ve never known I wanted it if she hadn’t told him. I remembered wistfully telling her about all the features, how I was going to teach myself to type, how I could use it for school projects. I was… overwhelmed and grateful. I’m still grateful.
I did use it for school. I did teach myself to type, retyping magazine articles over and over until I could type at 90 wpm. I also wrote a few short stories on it. I kept it and used it in college, at least the first couple of years. Then computers took over the world and I managed to get myself one of those.
But, what a gift that was for a budding writer. The ability to write as many words as I wanted, neatly, cohesively. My heart says that maybe I wouldn’t be who I am today if they hadn’t been so generous and thoughtful.
I’m lucky enough to have my parents and a very special Aunt who has been like a combo second-mom/best friend to me over the years. I think the lesson for me is to enjoy each moment with them. Live in it. Feel the gratitude, be overwhelmed. Put the phone down and just be. I hope you’ll do the same this year, because we’re not promised any tomorrows. Let’s enjoy our todays to the fullest.