I wrote this in the airport yesterday on my way home.
We buried my Grandma yesterday on her 99th birthday. As we sat around talking and telling stories about our memories of her, I couldn’t help but think of what a wonderful contribution she made to our world.
Obviously, she gave life to my mother and all her siblings, so without her, none of us gathered here would even exist without her. But it goes much more than that. She was an incredibly strong woman who in her own small way, broke many barriers and stereotypes over her lifetime.
She came to this country as a 3 year-old toddler and was the oldest of 11 kids. She worked long hard hours on her father’s farm, and was one of the first women to learn to drive that newfangled invention, the horse less carriage. She lost a brother at Pearl Harbor and proudly watched as her four sons served their country. She was Grandpa’s best friend and missed him dearly and talked of him everyday for the last 20 years.
To me of course, she was this little old lady who had a boisterous laugh and a warm kitchen full of cookies and fun, and now great memories. Over the years I’ve come to know her from a different perspective. She was more than a great Grandma; she was also a mother, wife and friend. The Priest summed up her essence in a few true words: fearless in faith. I never really noticed before this weekend, just how important her faith was to her, but as we looked around her house, suddenly it became starkly clear. Everywhere you looked, there are crucifixes, icons, and other evidence of her deep love of god, only equaled by her love of her family.
Corners are piled high with photo albums of her family and displayed on every wall and furniture surface are framed photos of her family; photos of each or her 8 children from baby pictures to recent photos, and showing their life stages in between. There are also pictures of her 25 grandchildren, 27 great grandchildren, and 3 great-great grandchildren. She so loved her family and loved to tell anyone who would listen all about each of them.
In talking with her nurse and my mother about the day she passed, there is no doubt that she knew it was time to go. She had been confused for several weeks and was not eating well, however on that day she was incredibly lucid. My mother had returned to her house while Grandma was to do her daily physical therapy. Nurse Terri said that Grandma told her she was going to skip therapy that day because God had told her to he didn’t want her working that hard on that day. She also made sure she had a good full meal before going back to her room for her nap. She passed away shortly after, quietly in her room. We all know that she made sure she wouldn’t be hungry on her journey to heaven.
Grandma lived in her own home, by herself, up until 3 months before she died. My mom would come by and check on her everyday to make sure she took her medicine, visit, and ensure she was okay. It was very hard on both of them to finally decide to enter the nursing home, but obviously it was the right thing to do. Just like Grandpa 20 years earlier, she didn’t stay long. Recently my mom asked her when her happiest times were. “In my whole life?” she asked; “well, yeah” mom said. Grandma thought about it a moment and replied, “When I was doing my chores.” Once she could do her chores anymore, and moved into the home, she lost her drive. I think she just got tired and really wanted to see Grandpa again. He’s been waiting for her for quite some time.
Grandma and Grandpa were married for 58 years, raised 8 successful children; none of which were ever in trouble with the law. They taught hard work, honesty, integrity and faithfulness through unflinching examples. I’m humbled and blessed to be a part of their legacy.
Happy birthday Grandma, rest well you deserve it. Tell Grandpa Hi for me and know that I love and miss you both. Till we meet again.