Monday, August 19, 2013

I Usta

When I was ten years old, I received a hand-written-in-pencil letter from my great grandmother thanking me for sending her a dollar for her 80th birthday. It was a pretty long letter -- two pages, front and back -- full of laboriously looped and neatly crafted cursive writing.

One line that stuck out and caught my critical third-grade, so-holier-than-thou eye was "when i was a girl, i usta love school." She didn't capitalized the pronoun "I," but what struck me was the made-up word "usta."

For years, I used it (pardon the pun) as a joke: "I usta love school," "I usta --" whatever. The irony of it spoke to me. She usta (again, forgive) *love* school but couldn't spell "used to." I was so cruel, so unkind, so self-sanctimonious, so unforgiving of a woman who had only three years of schooling, lived in a nursing home, didn't really know me except as some far-distant spawn of the spawn of her son, and yet she invested so much time and effort into reaching out and trying to formulate a connection with me.

I usta think I was something special. Now I know I'm not. I hope you will forgive my insensitivity. Thank you, Grandma Hopcroft. 

[Tomorrow: Crapalachia - My Very First Book Review]

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