Today would have been Joyce Peterson’s 100th Birthday.
Joyce was my grandmother on my mother’s side, and she passed away six years ago at the age of 94.
She was an amazing woman, gifted and beautiful. I always thought she looked a little like Cabbot Cove’s Jessica Fletcher, but unlike Angela Lansbury’s most famous character, she didn’t leave a path of dead bodies and mystery in her wake.
What she did leave was a legacy.
My grandmother was a very creative person, like much of my family. She painted and sketched and made all kinds of art – her hand drawn birthday cards are still some of my most precious possessions. They often came with matching envelopes that she had also carefully hand-painted or sketched.
But she had a passion for writing.
She wrote a bunch of plays for the kids at her church to perform, and she also directed and produced the plays, Broadway extravaganzas in her little church in Redondo Beach, California. Or it might have been the next town over – Hermosa Beach? In any case, she wasn’t above joining in the fun:
This may be my favorite photo of her.
She also wrote short stories. One time, she shared one she’d written with a gay character. I don’t think I recognized the act for what it was at the time. Looking back now, I think it was an attempt to connect with me about something she didn’t totally understand, but nevertheless accepted about me unequivocally.
She never had an issue with my being gay. As far as she was concerned, it was just a part of who I was.
I didn’t get it then, what sending this story mush have meant to her. But it doesn’t really matter. I understand now.
Six years after her passing, I have a newfound appreciation for who she was and her many talents. We are connected by blood, and by the gift for writing that she passed down to me. I am who I am in part because of her legacy, and her love for me that was never in doubt.
On your hundredth birthday, I thank you for everything you gave me – your love, your talent, and your understanding. And for still being a part of who I am to this day.
I love you, grandma.