I believe strongly in the cathartic power of writing. The energy of our words can free the trapped energy of our emotions, providing us with a pathway to our Light and truth. I am starting to offer workshops on spiritual writing that will focus on understanding the self through the written word. In the first series, we’ll be exploring who we are through the names we are given by others and the names we give ourselves. In this blog, I will be sharing my own written words around the stories of my names. Here is one:


“Grammy” & “Leethie”

It’s just three months into my first year at Bowdoin when the phone rings beside my roommate’s desk. I watch her pick it up, listen, then hand it over to me. It’s my mother.

“Dave [my birthfather] called. He wanted me to tell you his mother died.”

While my mother talks, I stand beside my roommate’s desk, emotionless. I can feel her eyes on me, questioning, but I ignore them.

“How’d she die?” I ask.

“I don’t know. He didn’t share.”

I can tell she’s already annoyed, she always is when my birthfather is a (rare) topic of conversation, so I don’t press it. Instead, I let her move on to other topics, half-listening as she shares stories about what has been happening in town during my absence.

 While my mother talks, I think about the grandmother who, when I was very young and she was happy to be with me, used to call me “Leethie.” I feel the warm wrap of a name that was only hers to give me, until I remember the grandmother who seemed to have forgotten she had two granddaughters across the country. I recall how quickly the gifts sent from Oregon on my birthday and Christmas disappeared after I said goodbye to her when I was thirteen. I think about how soon she became just “Grammy” in quotes signed on a card, then nothing at all.

While my mother talks, I realize I cannot remember the last time I heard my grandmother’s voice, or if she ever told me she loved me.

My roommate looks at me when I hang up the phone, her face a mask of concern. “Are you okay?”

In response, I tell her I’m fine. I tell her that my grandmother has recently died, but that I’m okay because we were not close.

My roommate looks at me like I’m a freak, and I realize if she had just lost her grandmother, she would be devastated. The emotionless words that have left my mouth mirror my truth on the surface. I honestly don’t know what I feel after hearing the news that Grammy is dead. Tears do not grace my face, nor do they simmer near the surface, waiting for a private moment to erupt.

I can almost ignore the loss that hides deep within me. I have gotten used to its heavy weight. In that unreachable place, I realize there will never be a chance for reunion.  Grammy will never hear my side of the story, and I will never be able to show her that young girl, barely a teenager, signing the papers to make her mother and stepfather happy. But, I don’t know if I care. Loyalty, on that day when I am 19, is still heavily weighted on the side of my mother’s truths.

6 thoughts on ““Leethie”

  1. Lori

    Wow Alethea I understand. I am alone in reading this and I am crying in my aloneness. So happy that you shared your reflections. The past is far from ideal. I sooooo wish it were different. I cannot speak for my mother but I do know that she was deeply hurt in the lose of having you and your sister close and to have that chance of a relationship distanced by miles. In today’s times that may have been different with the ways we can stay close through FB an Instagram . Believe me I am not making excuses for anyone including myself. Sometimes we distance ourselves not to remind ourselves of the hurt. I do know how happy my mom is to see you today, now in all your strength and beauty and love!


    1. Thank you for sharing this, Lori. I am revisiting a 10 year period in my life for mystery school and this is one of the memories I wrote about last night. I think I wrote it a little differently in my memoir. It seems each time we revisit a memory we learn something else about ourselves. ❤


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