The last deposit

Yesterday morning I deposited a check. Not a big check, but enough that you wouldn’t want to lose it. Enough to do some good in the girls’ college fund some day.

Enough to make me cry.

Every year around this time, I deposited a check that looked a whole lot like this one; a  check for $25 that warranted a long distance thank you call to Florida, along with some explanation of what wonderful things I would do with it.

“I’m going shoe shopping!” I’d tell my grandmother, never elaborating that I’d need a full $200 more for the heels I had my eye on. “I’m taking myself out for a nice lunch!” I’d say. “I’ve been craving a great bowl of pasta and I know just the place.” I could always her her lips crinkle up in a big smile from the other end of the phone. I could hear her eyes sparkle. I could hear the joy that came from setting aside some of her limited fixed income to send her grandchildren a birthday check, enveloped in a card purchased 10 for $6 at Publix.

There were the years that I desperately needed the $25 to pay my rent, but I never told her that. There were the years I didn’t need the $25 at all, but I never told her that.

I considered it once, but I remember my mother’s wise words: You don’t need the money, but she needs to give it to you.

Momsie has been gone 7 months now, but the hurt and longing still spring up at certain moments–a bit of good news I wish I could share, a TV appearance that would make her so proud, a new job, a new milestone for the girls. They mention her too from time to time.

“Who are members of our family? Mommy. Daddy. Grandpa. Grammye. Grandma. Papa.”

“And Momsie!” Sage adds, brightly.

Yes. And Momsie.

Funny how sometimes you feel the absence of a person more than you can feel a presence. It’s like physics f*cking with you. A universal practical joke.

Next month there will be no birthday check, of course. It’s all gone now, her tiny estate (such a funny term) divided up among the grandchildren. The stash of cheesy, sentimental birthday cards are gone too, and with them, the blue ballpoint xoxo love you, Momsie. With them, the phone calls to Florida, the crinkly smiles and sparkly eyes.

There was only this, the very last check.

I signed the back and fed it into the ATM slot, feeling my hands shake and hot, wet tears starting to form behind my eyes. Her name was on the check, but not in the signature. Only in the memo.


50 thoughts on “The last deposit”

  1. Yes…I feel my father's absence in my gut. I feel his absence every single day so much more than I felt his presence. I think it's because we want those we love to live forever and we're more than a little shocked when that dream doesn't come true.

    Hugs to you…and a few tears shed for Momsie. She was so lucky to have people in her life who loved her this much.

  2. Kids are so forceful in how they continue to include names of people no longer here.
    I know a similar ache, I am so sorry. I do love thinking of the way you'll make your own tradition that will bring thank yous through a phone decades from now.

  3. My paternal grandmother is a VIP in my life – along the lines of a 3rd parent. When she goes someday, there will be huge, gaping hole in my life and heart. One that will never close.

    I love reading your posts about your Momsie, knowing that that there are others who also have such a relationships with their own grandmothers. Other people who understand that special, unique love for a generation that is slowly fading.


  4. I believe this is the meaning of reincarnation. Those who we love will continue to live- but now as memories. Kids are the best at bringing up their stories and keeping our loved ones alive in our hearts and minds.

  5. So touched by this story. Grandparents are such a blessing and you are so fortunate that your kids got to know her.

  6. My grandmother has sent $25 every year for my birthday, without fail, for as long as I can remember. One day she'll be gone, and when my birthday rolls around I'll remember this post.

  7. Oh wow – this made me cry! It's the little things that make me miss my grandma the most.

  8. Yet, after all these years, I still somehow know that my Nagy Mama is right here, with me, bumming a cigarette (when I used to smoke) and trying to convince me that a trip to Atlantic City was a really GREAT idea (when I had money.)


  9. Oh honey, huge hugs.

    I still have my Grandma's last check to me. I carry it around in my purse. Written for Christmas two years ago. She passed four days before Christmas though.

  10. So beautifully written, you've made me cry. Your words are powerful on so many levels. What a wonderful way to keep her memory alive, she'll even be remembered through people who have never met her. She was obviously a really special woman.

    Now I'll go call my grandmother to tell her I love her & wish her a Good Shabbos. Thanks for reminding me.

  11. You further my partially-selfish theory that many of the most kickass women I know had that kind of grandmother too. 🙂

    It has been a year and a half since my grandma died. We were so close and it's the daily missing of those tiny rituals that hurt the most.

    We're so lucky to have them, it hurts so much to lose them. xo.

  12. It's funny the ways that the loss creeps up on you. Three years later, I still get unexpectedly blindsided. Just last week, while visiting relatives from the other side of the family, my son turned to me and said “their pool reminds me of Gigi's pool.”

    I am simulateously so grateful that he will grow up with happy memories of Gigi and her pool, and so sad that we won't be making any new memories.

  13. I just lost my grandfather six weeks ago. I keep thinking of things like “I need to tell grandpa that when we see him” and then the memory hits me like a ton of bricks. I feel your pain. And even though Grandpa didn't know me near the end (he had Alzheimer's) deep down he knew that he knew me. And I hang onto that. Hugs.

  14. That made me bawl. I often find old cards from my grandmum that I tucked in various drawers. And I still have the dollars she would send to the twins on their birthday. I saved them because receiving them and the ritual of that meant more than the actual money.

  15. My Nana died a few years ago and I didn't really feel like it affected me that much. Then, a year later, my Outlook calendar popped up with a “ding” and her birthday reminder showed up. I didn't expect it to hit me, but I was bawling my eyes out on the phone to my best friend about it within seconds.

    So, I know what you mean. (hug)

  16. My thoughts are with you. My grandfather passed away when I was 15. We didn't have cable when I was younger so he would record MTV (when they actually played videos)for me. He also taught me how to drive a stick in his brand new truck and had the patience of a Zen master.

    He was the coolest person I've ever known and I wish he was here so my daughter could know him. Even though he's been gone for years, I still think about him every day.

  17. Caleb (5 almost 6) said the other day, apropo of the one grandmother who died when he was 1, “they don't really LEAVE, mommy. they just move into your heart. where you can always see them when you want. but private.”

    And so for Momsie. That's where she is.

    And maybe in her honor, a $25 deposit every year to the girls' account?

  18. I remember your original post and the touching words you read at her service and shared with us. And this picture, again, is priceless.

    I am too familiar with these odd little milestones that measure our emotional strength. It is somehow important to celebrate not just the joyful moments, but to mark the sad ones and nod our head at the memories that drift by.

    But oh thank you for writing about it because it's better to grieve together than to do it alone.

  19. What a lovely post and sweet tribute to your grandmother. I lost my own Mom-Mom last year and two weeks after her funeral, found out I was pregnant with my son. The last time I saw her, she had said how excited she was for my husband and I to have babies. I was already pregnant, but had no idea, so I didn't get to tell her (in person, anyway). A few days after we brought our beautiful newborn son home from the hospital, we also recieved a last check. That money was a huge help- my husband was (and still is, sadly) looking for a nursing job and we had this amazing new life to care for- hopefully half as well as my Mom-Mom cared for us. And her REAL last gift to me, I know for sure, deep in my heart and with unwavering certainty, was my son. They crossed paths, her on her way out and he on his way in.

    Thank you for such a sweet, candid, beautiful post about your lovely Momsie!

  20. You all honor me with your comments and your own stories about treasured family. Thank you so much. These stories are amazing, one and all.

    How lucky we are to have this space to help us preserve our memories- and each other, to help us bear witness.

  21. I'm a little choked up now. My Grandpa always picked out the silliest cards and gave us gifts of movies that he loved, but we couldn't understand. When I find myself missing him and his cards, I pop “Shane” into the DVD player… and feel like I get to know a man I never really knew.

    Thank you for sharing. I am so sorry for your loss.

  22. Oh man this post hurt my heart. I dread the day I have the last deposit and no longer will those cards be in my mail. I am so sorry for your loss.

  23. I remember reading your tweet on that day and thinking how much I cherish my family.

    As long as you keep her close she will always be with you. She is probably smiling right now as everyone reads this beautiful post.

  24. “Funny how sometimes you feel the absence of a person more than you can feel a presence. It's like physics f*cking with you. A universal practical joke.”

    This is it, exactly. I feel my dad's absence, keenly, every day. I expect that I always will. Truthfully, if there comes a day, ever, that I don't… I don't really want that day to come.

  25. Oh, I'm sorry, Liz. I kept a last check from Jamie's dear aunt for the longest time. Couldn't bear to cash it. I wish I had kept some of the old birthday cards my grandmother used to send, signed with “xoxo”. I especially wish I had the envelopes. She used to write my name, town and state and that's it. You figure it out, postal service. And they always did.

  26. Oh my I am so sorry. It really touched me when you said we feel the absence sometimes more than the presence. I try to call my 96 year old grandfather every week and I can hear how happy it makes him. He is precious and his love for my family is breathtaking. I am so sorry for your loss, and I want to thank you for reminding me to cherish every day we have with our “bubba”.

  27. I love this post! My grandmother sends me that exact amount…$25 every birthday without fail. The time is coming soon when I know that check won't be in the mail and I shall sooooo miss it and the trite-but-very-Lola (her name) card. On another note…I've not heard of another Momsie before! That's what my boys call me (among other things sometimes).

  28. I'm so sorry, Liz.

    I also can't get over how much your grandmother's place looks so much like my grandmother's place (The Foxglove, in Hollywood, FLA). Every time I see this picture it's a reminder of my grandma, too.

  29. No control over the tears reading this…She is definitely watching all of us keeping a special eye on her 2 fav granddaughters. xoxo

  30. Sending lots of sympathy to you! I don't even know what else to say. I've always thought that picture was so lovely, such a great moment.

    I know what you mean about the checks from Grandma. I did the same, in that I never told mine when I was using it for food to stay alive or for a frivolous dinner. Once I was old enough to drive, my grandma always wrote “gas money” on the checks, and it often did go towards gas. Though my grandma is still alive and living with my mom, she no longer is able to write the checks. It's a different kind of sad, and not as heavy.

    Again, I'm so sorry for your loss.

  31. God, I love your writing. I miss my grandmothers everyday; the one I knew and the one I never got the chance to know. What a beautiful piece about something so sad.

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