Monday, October 08, 2007

A ten dollar lesson on the things that really matter

I received ten dollars in a birthday card last week. Except it wasn't my birthday. One of my aunts had put the money in Mom's birthday card along with a note instructing her to give it to me.

I found it quite a remarkable gesture. Especially considering this is an aunt I rarely see, Mom's eldest sister, who is widowed and has ten kids and umpteen grandkids of her own, not to mention twenty or so nieces and nephews. Yet here she is sending a note and ten bucks to her thirtysomething nephew she sees on Decoration Day, sometimes Christmas, and maybe another time or two during the year at most.

It really affected me.

It made me think about the alarming rate of the passing of time, and how I need to make more of an effort to see family and loved ones more often.

I thought about my grandmother, how almost eerily similar she and my aunt are, and how so many of her good qualities were obviously passed on.

I thought about how excited I would have been years ago, when I was in high school, or college even, to get ten bucks in a card.

Then I thought about how today, ten dollars won't buy much of anything. But if my six other aunts would get their act together and all made the same gesture... I'm kidding.

I felt guilty that she had sent me any money at all.

I thought about how maybe this is one of those things you don't directly repay, but instead just pass on to someone else. And I made a vow to myself that I would do the same someday for my nieces, nephews, and other loved ones.

I thought about how a hundred dollar bill would not have meant nearly as much. There was something simple and pure and sweet about those two fives.

I thought about how thankful I am for family. Even family I don't see that often. Especially family I don't see that often.

I'm thankful there are still some things in this world you can't put a price on. Things that are worth so much more than money and always will be. Things like a few words scribbled in love on a little piece of scrap paper...

Give this to Bone. And tell him I love him.

"No, I ain't forgot how I was raised, but I'm living way too fast. It's a roller coaster ride up and down..."


  1. I'm thankful there are still some things in this world you can't put a price on. Things that are worth so much more than money and always will be. Things like a few words scribbled in love on a little piece of scrap paper...

    As if I needed something else to trigger some tears today :*) You have a way with words, Bone, that no one else can come close to. I hope that's a lesson you'll learn someday, too. With or without $10 in a card.

  2. I went to the store the other day to buy Halloween cards to send to both my grandmas. They both live alone and I thought a card would be nice. I was a little sad to see cards for "daughter", "son", "grandson", "grand daughter", "friend", and "parent". Not a single one for grandma or grandpa. It struck me how we expect cards from them but don't think to send back. I ended up buying a card with a generic greeting...but my grandma's are far from generic. They are every bit of the GRAND at the front of their name.

    Family is wonderful. Two $5's or not!

  3. That is so, so sweet. My great-grandmother used to send me five dollars, by check, up until she got forgetful just a few years before she died. I remember her perfume smell on the envelope. Evey now and then I'll catch a whiff of it from out of nowhere, and the memories of her come flooding back. It's the priceless memory of the gesture, not the money, that matters.

  4. Awe, I think I'm gonna have to call my grandmother. Thanks Bone!

  5. "Things like a few words scribbled in love on a little piece of scrap paper..."

    so very true.

  6. TC: Thank you. That's very kind of you to say.

    Charlotta-love: First of all, that is very sweet of you. Secondly, how dare they not have grandparent cards! I remember seeing a Mother's Day card one time for "ex-daughter-in-law." What!

    Lass: You said it. The money has already been spent. But the little piece of paper will be kept and cherished.

    Melanie: I think that's a wonderful idea :)

    Sizzle: Thanks, Miss Sizzle.

  7. So you cashed those checks??? She hasn't had an account at Chemical Bank in years!

    Seriously that was a very sweet thing for her to do. Maybe you could send her something nice in return.

    and about the Jevhova's Witnesses...seriously the guy said it was for a Pizza delivery!

    and about the boyfriend...I sure hope that if any girl ever said that about you, you learned how to be better.

  8. I have thought about this often. My grandmother - until she went into a nursing home - always sent $5 or $10 for every holdiday and I mean everyone. The biggies like Easter or Thanksgiving I got $10, the smaller holidays like Halloween and Valentine's Day I got $5. Reading your post made me sad in a nostalgic kind of way, since she can't do this anymore. It's not the money it's that she always rememberd and always took the time and these days time IS flying by.

  9. Really beautiful Bone

  10. At least it wasn't a check for $6 from your Nanna who is on a fixed income drawn on the Chemical Bank.

    Poor Nanna, downtown alone.

  11. Ah man, Renee beat me too it. Got me!

    Seriously, we should have a Seinfeld Smackdown between the three of us. I call evens.

  12. Who the heck is no reason...I'm Sylvia... and those are My Comments

  13. There we go...all better now.

  14. My family believes in passing on the good things in life, just like that.

    I graduated from medical school without student loans (even though I got married half-way through undergrad, too)!

    The catch? I had to pay for my kid(s) college educations.

    My daughter, of course, chose the most expensive school on her list. (At least she got a partial scholarship, and maybe she'll get more funds next year, since she made the team for a well-funded NCAA Sport--Women's Crew). But what made it all worth it was the first time she came home after school started and she sat hubby and me down and said, "I just want to say THANK YOU. All my friends were telling me how much they were going to owe when they graduated, and I just sat there, keeping my mouth shut. I didn't have the heart to tell them what you were doing for me. I really appreciate it, and I'll make sure you get your money's worth."

    Now I've gotta find those friends and pay them the $20 I owe them. :wink:

  15. I try and leave little notes lying around for the people that mean the most to me. A You make me so proud hidden in the laundry I sometimes surprise my brother by doing, a You are my miracle to my boyfriend scribbled in Sharpie on a paper towel in his kitchen or a Your compassion is evident in everything you do jotted on a post it and stuck to a coworkers desk.

    It is the little things that matter most and too often we forgot how strongly a few heartfelt words can affect those around us.

    Thank you for reminding us. Maybe we'll all be a little free-er with our scrap paper for a while.

  16. Renee: Well, Kramer thought it would make her happy... I knew I shouldn't have cashed those checks!

    Yeah, I've already been thinking I need to do something for her.

    Mks: Yeah, that's a lesson in itself, for me anyway. They always found the time, when I never can seem to.

    Pia: Thank you.

    Sylvia: Who the heck is no reason

    I'm glad you asked, because I was about to :)

    OK, I've got odds. Straight choose. Three takes it. No disputes. Ready?

    Gay: You're very fortunate to be able to do that. Sounds like a wonderful thing to pass on.

    Avery Laine: I think the whole thing served as sort of a reminder and wake-up call for me. And I sure needed it.

  17. Awww, that is really sweet...

    There is a nice 93-year-old lady, who thinks of my parents as family and sends them cards on holidays or 'just because', and in the cards there is $1 each (with names written in curly handwriting on them) for me and my siblings.

  18. I think you should pay it back by going to visit her. Maybe call her just to chat and say thanks. That would mean more to her than anything I'm sure. Now that you mention it, I miss those cards from my aunt with a $10 or $20 in it. She's been gone for years, but she never forgot my birthday or Christmas. OK, now I need a kleenex.

  19. I can relate to this feeling, Bone. My grandparents, who I never see and should (they only live across town) always sends us money for Christmas. I wish they wouldn't. I REALLY wish they wouldn't. It makes me feel so guilty for not seeing them more often. And I hate that they might think that is what I want from them, money. My grandparents are very well off and I fear, in my bones, that when they pass away, there will be a huge family fight for their money.

    I don't want any part of it. For me, it's enough to know they cared enough about me to remember me even though I don't deserve their kindness.

    It's the "Hope you're doing well. Come by and see us sometime" that I cherish more.

  20. Hell, I'm not even old, but when the kiddo calls and says, "I'm only taking a two-minute study break, but I thought I'd call and say hello" it makes my day. Phone calls mean A LOT. I wish I still had my mom to call.

  21. Great post. And you are right, 10 bucks wont go very far. But man what a great thought from your aunt!

    And thanks for the link!

  22. This brought back such fond memories of my own $5 bills from my grandma that I got in my birthday card every year. She never, ever forgot. Money was tight for her but she always remembered her grandchildren. Thank you for helping me remember!

  23. I know you will do something for her...a little surprise she will not see coming....

  24. "Give this to Bone. And tell him I love him."

    doesn't get much better than that.. :)

    you are blessed.

  25. It is the simplistic acts of kindness and love that mean so much. Life seems to get in the way of the important family. In our family it is truly sad that these days family reunions tend to be centered around someone's funeral.

  26. I can vouch that a picture speaks a thousand words, ever since moving to England from the US, my family ever so often send a recent photo of themselves or the area I grew up with a post-it attached saying, "miss you" and I love that more than anything . . . just an idea