Dear Grandma,

Thank you for the memories. Thank you for the 12 a.m. stories over milky tea and Italian cookies from the bakery down the street. Thank you for the stories that you tell me every time I see you but that are even more comforting each time you tell them. Thank you for the musty-smelling photo albums with faded polaroids of my father when he was a child and of my uncle when he had long hair.

Thank you for the blowup mattress, for fresh sheets and clean towels and a set of pajamas, because I didn't know I would end up having a breakdown in Central Park and need to sleep at your apartment that night. Thank you for Panera and for the extra toothbrush and picking me up with the dog in the back seat and tears in my eyes. Thank you for taking me for bagels that morning because you knew that it was familiar, that it meant family and because you knew that family was what I needed right then.

Thank you for the distractions, for the trivial gossip about the people in your apartment complex and their dogs. Thank you for making my most important concern whether the man downstairs will go out at 4 a.m. for the fourth night in a row tonight. Thank you for the ins and outs of your daily life, like wanting to end your car lease because your car is too small or deciding whether to change the curtains behind the couch. Thank you for allowing the distractions of your world to distract me from the distractions of mine.

Thank you for pulpy orange juice and the crispy bacon. Thank you for the three different types of butter you laid out on the table. Thank you for the food you offer us for the ride home and for giving us everything we could ever need—ice for the water, a cooler for the ice. Thank you for giving us everything and asking for nothing in return.

Thank you for your dog who sits at my feet while I eat and on my lap when we drive. Who looks out the window behind the couch when I walk out of your apartment. Thank you for his innocence and loyal comfort, which represents exactly what you are to me.

Thank you for being so much without even realizing it. Thank you for teaching me the value of caring for yourself by doing that every day. Thank you for showing me that I should always take a walk and eat wheat bread over white. Thank you for showing me that the early bird catches the worm and that hard work really does pay off.

Thank you for being strong. Even though you had no choice but to be strong, you decided to be strong and you decided to be happy about that. You decided not to complain about that. It was a decision to be proactive, to not feel bad for yourself, to do what was best for your children but also for you. It was a choice I try to mirror every day.

Thank you for being everything for your family. Thank you for coming to every play and softball game and gymnastics meet and birthday party. Thank you for not just showing up but really being there. Thank you for knowing everything about everyone. Thank you for knowing that I might need an extra blanket because I'm always cold and knowing that chicken parmesan is my favorite of your meals.

Thank you for all the brownies. Thank you for having a fresh glass pan of brownies ready for me when I come to your apartment and for offering me one at breakfast. Even though you section the pan off so each cousin has an equal share, I don't mind, because they are good brownies.