My Grandma passed away on Aug 22, just a few days before her 89th birthday. I flew out to Utah to attend her funeral, and it was wonderful to reflect on her life, and commit to be a little more like her.
There are a lot of things I love about my Grandma, but the one that stands out the most is how she made each and every one of her 10 children and 41 grandchildren feel like they were her favorite. You never went away from Grandma’s house without a big boost in self confidence, because you had just spent the last hour being told how wonderful, special, beautiful, and talented you were.
The last time I saw my Grandma was in June. Blake had just turned one, and the last year had been a crazy one. Taking care of three kids often leaves me a bit frazzled, and taking care of three kids on vacation ALWAYS leaves me frazzled. I was running a little low in spirits. I hadn’t seen her in awhile, and the whole time I was there she sat right next to me, with her hand in mine. She kept patting my hand, and telling me what a special girl I was, how wonderful and important I am, how I was looking so beautiful, and asking if Rusty knew how lucky he was to have me. You can bet by the time I left I was feeling on top of the world—she successfully boosted my spirits, and left me feeling confidant that I could do anything! I will miss that so much.
My Grandma has a favorite story she loves to tell about me. I think I’ve heard it at least 50,000 times in my life. When I was little, I was a talker. My mom jokes that I could speak in complete sentences before I could even take one step. I was probably less than 2 years old and my parents were over at Grandma’s house. My mom was relating one of my latest tricks, and my proud Grandma said, “Well, isn’t she above average!” My tiny self immediately parroted, “Above average?” in that sweet baby voice. Well, that just cracked her up. So, every time I would see her she would tell me that I’ve always been above average.
At her funeral, as I had time to sit and reflect on her wonderfully rich and full life, I was struck with a few things. Things that I want to do in my own life to honor her memory.
One, make each of my children feel special everyday.
Another thing that really stuck with me was how much she loved my grandpa. He died when I was just a baby, so most of what I know about him comes from her. He was truly the love of her life, and I have never heard her say anything but loving, positive things about him. We watched a little video interview that David did with her a few years back and she said, “Never was a woman more loved by a man than I was.”
In my own life, I want to reverse that statement. When Rusty is 80 years old and our kids do a video interview of him (smile) I want him to say, “Never was a man more loved by a woman than I was.”
The last thing came from a journal she kept called “Words to Live By.” This journal had newspaper and magazine clippings of inspirational thoughts, quotes, or life philosophies. It also had a lot of her own words on how she wanted to live her life, and what characteristics she wanted to develop. There was one quote that I thought described her perfectly:
Until you understand–
Do not criticize;
Then perhaps you may wish
Just to sympathize
Grandma accepted people as they were, she loved them no matter what. She loved them even when they made decisions that she didn’t agree with, or when their opinions weren’t in line with hers. I think I can honestly say that I never heard her speak a critical word about anyone. And all of us knew that we had her unconditional love. This quote is going to become my new mantra as I seek to become less critical, and more understanding and accepting.
Natalie, Carlie and I sang, “Each Life that Touches ours For Good” at the funeral. The third verses says, “When such a friend from us departs, we hold forever in our hearts, a sweet and hallowed memory, bringing us nearer, Lord to thee.” I know as we all move forward that we will carry her memory with us, and we are better people for having had her in our lives.
Grandma, I love you and will miss you so much!