Today we celebrate my grandma. It seems unreal that a woman I thought was too stubborn to let herself die, did. The last few years grandma was often a hard woman to love. Her body had betrayed her and that made her bitter and often mean to the ones who loved her most. And the thing was, she loved them most, too, but she couldn’t seem to hold in the hurtful words. But even still, we all loved her. She was our grandma.
Today I am remembering the good times we had and there were many. Back when grandma had a healthy body and an unstoppable attitude. She was a young widow and she had learned to do everything she needed on her own. My best memories are helping her hoe her huge garden or watching her cut corn off the cob to make her famous cream corn. I sat in her yard and played with baby dolls. I dug up every moth balls the poor woman buried to ward off snakes, thinking it was some weird treasure. I diagnosed and treated my Uncle Warren for hundreds of ailments while he laid patiently in the floor. (I was the only granddaughter/niece and possibly a little spoiled.) I can remember going to a tiny country store and being able to pick out candy from behind the glass from a little old lady when I visited. Grandma always took me to her little white church and let me sing in the choir with her. A few times she let me sing a special with her. There was one time on the way to church that the car started smoking or something. She dragged me out so fast I left my baby doll. I was having a colossal fit in the road because if it was dangerous, why did she leave my baby?! She finally huffed and went back for him. So many good memories.
The good times are all there, buried under some hurtful years, but still there. The past few days the good times have started resurfacing. She wasn’t a bad person, my grandma, she was just hard to love sometimes.
I saw her the last time a few weeks ago. I won’t lie and say I didn’t cry like a baby talking to her. She was not exactly herself and was on medication to help her with pain, but she knew me. In those last minutes with her, I encouraged her to let go of this body. To go on to a place where she would have a perfect body. Where she would see her husband and old friends. Where she could work in her garden again and be outside in the sunshine. I told her when I got there I expected salmon and fried potatoes, which is what she always fixed me back when she could. I am so thankful she finally let go.
Life with grandma was not easy. She could be a hard woman and was outspoken and opinionated, things that run strong in her genes apparently. But we would not be the people we are without her. She taught us to stand up for ourselves and speak our mind. To work at what we love. To cherish and nurture friendships. And that Jesus is the way, the truth and the light. She taught us that heaven is real and we will see her again. Because of her, we can be relieved instead of distraught, knowing that these are not the final times we will have with her. Not the only memories we will make. Someday we will see her again and she will be in a new body and ready to ramrod this motley crew again. A strong woman and a fearless matriarch. That was my grandma and today we remember her.
(This picture was taken at her birthday years ago. She laughed and laughed at our hats and had the best time. She had a wicked sense of humor, which she also passed on, and was truly happy that day. This is how we remember her today, from one of the best days in recent years.)