Kansas City family treasures hundreds of ‘notes from Gammie’ over past 20 years

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — We could all probably use some advice right now as we try to recover from the pandemic.

That’s never something one Kansas City family has had to worry about it. It comes regularly to their mailbox, from their 92-year-old grandmother. 

Toni McEnroe lives at Senior Star at Wexford Place, where she’s still penning those “Notes from Gammie.”

“There’s a bright side and a positive attitude to every circumstance if you strive to look for it. All things change, that’s life,” one letter filed under the attitude section of Morgan McEnroe’s memory box begins. 

But for 20 years there’s been a constant for Toni McEnroe and her 10 grandchildren. It started when her daughter thought her oldest grandchild needed an attitude adjustment as a teen. 

“Some grandparents think I’m not here to discipline. Well you don’t let kids go run out in the street. You discipline when its necessary and teach when its necessary, but I think your wisdom is there,” McEnroe said.

So she decided to send a note with proverbs, quotes and experiences from her life.

Now one note has turned into hundreds upon hundreds of Notes from Gammie for every grandchild, but they aren’t today’s typical “how’s it going?” text messages. 

“It was a personal one to me because I was struggling with a career to pick in college and you wrote a nice one,” Morgan recalled. 

Each grandchild has a memory box filled with hand-written notes covering 12 categories: attitude, choices, education, faith, forgiveness, happiness, health, hope, patience, perseverance, relationships and service. 

“Somebody said do you have a hard time finding material, and I said material is every place if you look for it.”

Her granddaughter Morgan remembers why she received each letter and the personal touches that came with them, like when she wanted to quit the track team. 

“Perseverance means trying again and again but changing what you are doing. People get locked into a rut trying harder without trying smarter,” the note began. 

“Coming from a different perspective and from someone who is so wise and has that wisdom and experience and knows what you are going through whether in that same situation or others it meant a lot,” Morgan said. 

At age 92 and with the youngest grandchild turning 19 this week, “Gammie” isn’t sure how many more letters she’ll write. But the family said her lessons and likely the tradition will live on in future generations. 

“Learn from the events or people in your life a positive attitude helps make things easier it helps accept what you have been given and your purpose in life. Love Gammie,” she wrote.

“It’s the craziest, coolest relationship to have with a grandma, and I really really cherish it,” Morgan said.

So what’s McEnroe’s advice to parents struggling with their own children in some areas? Keep mentoring; children may not be listening, but they are hearing.

And if you want to help the message get through, “write it down, write it down. I really like that idea,” she said. 

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