Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Grandma

I've shared some memories of my grandma already. My sister also shared somebeautiful memories of her.

Her funeral was held on Saturday. It was wonderful to have the chance to see aunts and uncles and cousins and other extended family that I don't see often.
My uncle Tom gave a talk about the plan of salvation and that we will be reunited after this life. My aunt Jane then shared some memories of my grandma.

My grandma was a wonderful woman. She wasn't perfect. She had strong opinions and wasn't afraid to express them. She had a strong testimony of the gospel, and she worried about her children and grandchildren and became frustrated and concerned when any of her family members made choices that weren't in harmony with the gospel...and she let them know that she was disappointed. She considered being a wife, mother and grandmother her most important responsibility. She dedicated her life to her family.

My aunt Jane shared that when my grandma was young, she helped with her grandparents' farm. Sometimes ducks would lay eggs and the mother duck would be killed or something. So they'd give the duck eggs to a hen to hatch. The hen would protect the eggs and set on it until it hatched. Then there would be a few chicks and a few ducks. The chicks would soon start pecking around the yard, but the little ducklings would soon head toward the pond. The poor mother hen would try to herd the ducklings back away from the pond because chicks don't swim. But the ducklings were ducks, and they were meant to swim...so head to the pond, they did. The hen would be frantic with worry. My grandma told my aunt that as her children grew, she often felt like that mother hen...she wanted her children to be chicks and they were actually ducklings and were determined to act like ducks. I can relate to this a little bit...my own children are amazing and wonderful but their personalities, interests and strengths are unique to them. Sometimes it is hard to accept that they might struggle with things that I find easy or that they might be really good at things that I find hard. It is certainly humbling (and sometimes worrisome).

My grandma believed strongly in food storage although she wasn't great at using her food storage.

My grandma was intelligent and articulate. My aunt Julia shared that because she grew up with my grandma she was accustomed to using big words and speaking clearly. That gave her some advantages when it came time to apply for college (she scored high on the language parts of the ACT/SAT) but sometimes others would ask her to stop using such big words.

She loved to eat at Sizzler.

She had her house decorated in a Southwestern style...tan leather sofas with wall hangings that pictured desert landscapes in oranges, reds, and browns. She had a beautiful stained glass door of a sunset as her front door at her house. In the hallway, she had framed photos of her children. Each of her children also had a section of wall in the hallway or one of the bedrooms with framed photos of their families. I spent as much or more time in her home as a child than in my own home. I can clearly picture in my mind her living room, her kitchen, the front yard and back yard and each bedroom. The house was sold 7 or 8 years ago, but it is clear in my mind.

Before going into labor with Michelle, I read that visualizing can be calming. I tried it...trying to picture a beautiful waterfall. But it really didn't work. I couldn't picture it clearly enough to hold onto it when the contractions were hard. When I was in labor with Ella and Gabby, I'd picture my grandma's living room and me snuggled next to my grandpa as he read me a story or sitting and playing quietly on the floor while all the grown ups talked politics or history or other subjects around me. That image was so clear and so comforting that it really helped. It is a big part of what gave me the ability to give birth to Ella and Gabby naturally with no pain medication.

This past Sunday, I showed photos of my grandma and grandpa and my dad, aunts, and uncles to my children. We watched a Mormon Message about family history and read Malachi 4:5-6. Then I shared some stories of my grandma's life. I found a talk she'd given in sacrament meeting in 1991, and she'd given me a copy. The talk was on family traditions. One of the traditions she wrote about was meeting at Saguaro Ranch Park (in Phoenix) for a big luncheon on Christmas Eve or a few days before Christmas. We'd have a big potluck dinner and each child would get a gift from one of the cousins (we drew names.) Then the adults participated in a very lively white elephant gift exchange. I remember wishing that I could grow up and be one of the adults because it seemed like they had a lot more fun with their gift exchange than we did. :) I honestly hadn't thought about this for a long time, but suddenly I remembered so many fun times at that park with my family.

She loved my grandpa. They were so loyal to one another. They didn't agree on everything. My grandpa sometimes drove her crazy because he wore socks that didn't match his pants/shoes or his hair never seemed to be combed like she liked it. She worried that he didn't eat the proper foods with his diabetes. He was so calm and gentle and she was a worrier and her natural inclination was to fight (as in argue) when others angered her. Yet I remember around the time I was getting married or maybe a couple of years before that I said something like, "Well, I know that marriage is hard. I know that it takes a lot of work, and there will be hard times but I'm willing to work at it." Her response was something like, "It has never been hard to be married to your grandpa. It has always been wonderful." And while I know that they didn't always agree on everything, I really believe she meant that. Their marriage was wonderful and they loved each other very much. I'm so grateful that they are together again.

My grandma was a storyteller. She told so many stories about her childhood, her parents, her aunts and uncles. She wanted her children and grandchildren to know about their ancestors. She often got out photos of ancestors or distant relatives and showed us the photos and told us stories. I admit that I didn't always appreciate this about her. But I do now. I wish I had written more of those stories down and could remember more of them. I'm grateful for the copies of photos that I inherited from her and the love I have for some of my ancestors that I gained from her stories.

My grandma and grandpa, about 1946
My grandma at about age 3
More photos of my grandma

My grandma wasn't perfect, but she did the best she knew how. She was the perfect grandma for me and her impact on my life is/was/always will be tremendous. Much of who I am today is due to the tutoring I received from her. Oh, how I love her!