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I keep a nail file in my purse.  It is not in fact because my nails are constantly breaking, or because I have a weird obsessive thing about keeping my nails always, perfectly the same shape and length (I have other weird obsessive things, but that’s not one of them). No, it’s because of the purse it was in before mine. When my grandmother died, my mom got several of her old purses. Several months ago I was looking for a bag to take to school, and in the pocket of one I found this nail file. It was something she left behind, almost like it was just for me to find all these years later.

There are other things like that too: unused kleenex that smelled like her, in the pocket of a coat I wore (when I was still small enough to wear clothes that once belonged to my very petite grandma).

Rolled up, rubber banded dollar bills in a bag of halloween candy that was hidden  in the back of the pantry.

A necklace she gave me one day while she was getting ready, no occasion, just because she wanted to.

I have these things, but there are other, more important things she gave me.

She gave me the aspiration for class. She was always ready to be seen.  There was no such thing as a quick trip to the store in anything less than flawless.  But she wasn’t just lovely because she was beautiful (though she was), she was dignified, she had grace and taste, and carried herself well.

Image (Just to be clear, this is a picture of Audrey Hepburn and not my grandma, but it might as well be.)

She gave me an example of it being more blessed to give, than to receive. She and my grandpa had these chairs, and every Christmas morning they would sit in them and watch us open the immense amount of presents they had spoiled us with, and they were so happy, just to see us be so happy; they enjoyed seeing our faces, and our excitement translated to their excitement.

She gave me the secret to making people feel welcome.  For me, it’s food ( I think that’s actually my love language). She was always feeding me, I was never hungry in my grandparent’s house (the only good thing about not living nearer to them is it’s probably the only thing that kept me from being 300 pounds by the time i was eight).   Sometimes I was in the way; sometimes I was thoughtless; sometimes I interrupted and spoke out of turn. But there was always a sandwich and a soda for me in the kitchen, and someone to talk to.

She gave me my mom. One of the kindest, smartest, funniest, best people I know.

She gave me some of the fondest memories,  and warmest hugs.

And that’s why I keep a nail file in my purse.