The Day Punky Lost Her Penpal

Miss Punky is really into drawing and writing right now. She draws pictures every day now; with colors, markers, and pencils. Anything she can get her hands on. She’s writes people notes and lists and letters. She’s been really doing a lot of writing. Even her thank you cards from her birthday were made by her. She had me fold small pieces of scrapbook paper, she would draw pictures on them and then tell me who it was to so I could write their name on it. We mailed them to all her friends and guests.

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I’m not sure if that was well received by the guests, but she puts a lot of time and effort into her pictures and letters. She’s so very proud of her drawings. I’ve been having so much fun watching how her ‘writing’ and her pictures evolve. It’s gone from scribbles to lines to circles to faces.

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“This is my family”

Several months ago, Punky met her great-grandfather. He’s Kim’s step grandfather and he lived in a different state. So we didn’t see him very much. Occasionally, he would have doctor’s visits in our area and he would visit. Recently, he’s taken a fondness for Punky. He started to send her letters and color her pictures and send them in the mail. They talked on the phone, not much physical contact; but she developed a penpal relationship with him.

This last Thursday evening, her grandfather passed away. Towards the end of his life, he began to forgot things, showing signs of dementia or Alzheimers. He was still, through all of that, sending her letters and drawings.

Punky is three years old and we weren’t really sure if it was necessary to even explain to her what had happened. As atheist parents, Kim and I were at a loss of how to explain the complexities of death to a three year old; without using the comforts of Heaven and God. Because we believe that when you die, there is nothing else, you simply go back to the Earth; it’s hard to rectify and explain it to a child.

If I was a still a religion woman, I would have said things like “He’s in a better place” or “God is watching him” or “He’s happy in Heaven.” But, since we don’t believe that is what happens; it’s pretty hard to explain.

I also didn’t want to relay the message that other people’s definition of death is right or wrong. I didn’t want to put ideas in her head of what was right or wrong to think. I just wanted to relay the news of her passing grandfather and that it would be sad and that’s why Grammy and Papa were sad. I didn’t want to discount the beliefs of her grandparents either. I didn’t want to tell her that Heaven was wrong or that her moms were the only people who knew what death was and what happens.

If they hadn’t had a relationship of any kind, I wouldn’t have made an effort.

But she draws him pictures. She talks about him. She talked to him on the phone. She looked forward to the mail he was send her pretty regularly. Now that those pictures would not be coming anymore; now that she has no where to send her pictures, we had to figure out a way to explain that.

As much as we fretted over it, it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. We made it bigger in our heads than it was in her head. It’s tricky to explain why she couldn’t send letters to him because he had died. But she was more than welcome to still draw pictures of him or for him if she wanted to. I didn’t want to equate being sick with dying – as to frighten her when she got sick to think she would die and cease to exist again.

So, we had the talk and she was a little confused, but I think she got the concept for the most part. I didn’t want to discourage her from asking questions, but she’s too little to know what questions to ask and I didn’t want to make thing to complicated! At the end of the day, she knows that Grandpa died and isn’t here anymore. She won’t be able to send him mail and he won’t be sending her mail anymore.

And that’s how she lost a penpal.

In happier news, we had a girls day with our friends on Friday. She had a great time looking at the animals and spending time with her bestie, Cheeks. I sure love these girls. We took Punky’s cousin with us as well. Cheeks and Punky have been friends for a long time, since they were able to walk really. It’s been awesome to see them grow up and grow closer.

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It’s like the movies, when your best friend has been your friend since you were tiny! I can only hope they don’t grow apart. I know its never something we will know, but, it’s so cute, the two of them. They enjoy each other’s company and they spend a great deal of time together when we are able to get them together.

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The girls had a great time at the zoo. I really enjoyed taking them!

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6 thoughts on “The Day Punky Lost Her Penpal

  1. I love that she had a penpal in him, very sweet! My grandma lived down the street from me, but she would always write me letters. When I moved away, she wrote me at least once a week and I have very fond memories of that/receiving those letters. I’m glad Punky seemed to be okay with your explanation. Save those letters/pictures he sent her!

    • We are definitely saving her letters and pictures, there were so many, some have been wrinkled up or ripped, but we are trying to keep track of all the art floating around our house! LOL

  2. So sorry for Punky’s loss. It is the age of resiliency though and I love that she is keeping it up with the drawing and writing. Her and her BFF are CUTIES!!!! And totally future troublemakers if I ever did see it 😉

    • I think she’s pretty resilient, in that she doesn’t really talk about it or get upset. I’m sure that she will come up with a thought or question months after we all think she’s forgotten! Her friend is quite possibly autistic and she’s just a doll. The two of them just get me every time!

  3. I’m sorry for your family’s loss. Death can be so complicated for young kids to understand, but it seems like you guys did a good job of explaining to Punky what was happening, and how great to encourage her to continue writing and coloring to him.

    • Thanks so much. I don’t think she’s really had much of another thought about it. Of course, as with my Punky, she will bring up a thought or question about it months down the road!

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