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5 love notes to my grand-mother

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I originally posted this story on the Help Others website in June of 2007.   It received a lot of touching comments over the following few months, and then I forgot all about it.   So imagine my surprise when four years later, out of the blue, on October 11, 2011, I noticed that the headline of the Smile Newsletter which had just landed in my inbox was ‘5 Love Notes to My Grand-mother.”   I clicked on the link out of curiosity, and was really moved to discover that the story had been read by over 7,000 thousand people.

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Madeleine Bault (1911-2009)

June 2007.  I was just in France to visit my grand-mother who is very dear to me.  I don’t get to cross the Atlantic very often, and she’s now 96 year old, so every time I visit, the two of us are very aware that it might be the last time we see each other.  Last time I visited her in December of 2004, I did a series of short video interviews about her life. I asked her what it was like to grow up with her father in the 1910s (her mother died during labor), to live through the German occupation alone with two young children and a husband away in a prisoner’s camp in Germany. I asked her about her greatest memories and life learnings so far, her favorite books, foods, stories. I also asked her about her spirituality and her thoughts about death. I learned a lot of amazing new things about her I never knew before. These were very intimate conversations and a very special time for both of us.

This year, I did not really have questions, only a great urge for her to know how loved she is. I cooked for her, and read her stories. I gave her a foot massage, which I was amazed to discover was her first ever!  As the time to part approached, I started looking for a way to leave something meaningful behind besides the memory of our time together. I ended up writing her five different love and gratitude notes to let her know how much she means to me, and hid them in different places where I knew she would eventually find them. One under the sheets, on her pillow; another one hanging from the lamp shade by which she reads in the evening; another one by her toothbrush; one in her mailbox which she eagerly checks every day; and a last one on her car’s steering wheel (she still drives to the nearby village a couple of times a week to run errands).  I left feeling really joyous knowing that these cards would surely cheer her up after I left, as she lives by herself.  She called me as I was traveling back to Paris to catch my plane back to the US and said (in French of course): “I found your three cards! By the time I discovered the third, I was laughing out loud! They did me so much good. Thank you so much!” I smiled to myself, knowing she still had two more to go! It was Sunday, so my guess is that she had not checked her mailbox and had not yet driven her car!

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At 96 Year Old

June 2009 – My grand-mother passed away on April 18, 2009. She had just turned 98 year old. I was unfortunately thousands of miles away when she left, but in our last phone conversation, 5 days before her death, we had a last chance to tell one another all the things that matter. I wrote my final love note to my grand-mother for her funeral. I know she would have liked it.  She came to me in a dream a few days after she died.  She was sitting right next to me at her funeral.  She looked at the coffin then turned to me and smiled, somehow letting me know that she was still around even though she had physically moved on.  She comes to my awareness regularly, and we remain connected through the heart.