This is a sample of my maternal grandmother’s handwriting, passed down to me a few years ago by mother. When I look at it, I marvel that she possessed such a delicate talent. I only knew her for the very early years of my life, and if I add together what I remember and what I’ve been told, the sum of that knowledge doesn’t fit with the elegance that I see here.
Two sides of a coin, perhaps, this one shinier than the other. (I wish I could hear stories from other relatives who knew her. Whether the coin appears shiny or tarnished may have something to do with who’s doing the polishing.)
This is her maiden name and, if I had to guess, I would say that she wrote this before she married my grandfather. I don’ t know if she continued to produce such lovely penmanship, or if her skill fell away over time the way things do when they go unpracticed.
But it’s one thing from the past that I reach back and pull along with me. It’s just a piece of a whole, and I doubt it’s the one piece that makes sense of the rest of her. I think of it sometimes as I practice calligraphy hundreds of miles and more than a few decades from where she must have sat at a desk in Kansas. Perhaps one afternoon I will sit down and attempt to replicate her graceful penmanship. For now, I will frame it and hang it in my studio, a bit of my grandmother that ties me to her, in spirit and in my work.
And, though she will never know it, gives me a gentle push into the future.