I wish I could tell you about all of the accomplishments and accolades Grandma had received throughout her life – but as Laci and I sat down to write her obituary, I realized how much I don't know about those kinds of things. I know she graduated college with a degree in English and Bible, that she married and was an awesome mom. I know she taught lots of kids at lots of schools – but not many specifics. And even if I did know all of those things –I don’t know that anything I say could sum up what a true treasure my Grandma was. What I can tell you about though – is what kind of Grandma she was to me.
Grandma loved Jesus first and foremost – and she loved her family second. For the majority of my childhood we grew up in a house that backed up to hers and all I had to do was go through the back gate and I was at grandma's house. Sometimes this happened with full permission from my parents… and sometimes just by accident. Her backyard had a pop-up pool for us and this is probably where we probably spent half of our days – swimming and eating Creamsicle push pops that only grandma would buy.
When we got to spend the night she would make meatloaf and macaroni and cheese, and let us stay up past bedtime drinking Coke floats and trying to get the VCR player to work right – which for some reason was always a chore – or watching shows that looking back now as a mom - were probably slightly questionable?? Rescue 911 is probably not the best kid-show??
On Tuesdays when my mom would work – we would take turns staying with grandma for the day instead of going to church. We would spend the mornings mowing the grass, edging and sweeping – and if we were really lucky we would get to watch grandma annihilate Georgia thumper grasshoppers with her little yard clippers or whatever else she could grab. When it got close to lunchtime, we would take her car… Affectionately known as the boat…(because apparently you aren’t safe unless your car is the size of a hum-v) to the car wash for $5 Tuesday - and then on the way home she would always say “wanna get a cheeseburger??” as she pulled out carefully clipped coupons from the center console of her car. We always brought our lunch back home and had to get back before Price is Right – which really was just to ensure we were back for The Young and the Restless. These were our favorite days – at least until her driving got a little risky and then we all begged to just stay home for lunch.
Grandma was the most patient person I know – through all the grandkids – and all the naughtiness – she would just shake her head and smirk or give "the look". Only one of us remembers ever getting spanked – and I am sure you can guess which grandkid that was [starts with an "S" and ends with "tephen"]. Grandma was generous in every sense of the word and she had a way of making little things into celebrations. Birthday cards from her - no matter how old we turned - always included a dollar for every year - and every “holiday” - even just the hallmark ones - meant a card and a small treat for each of us grandkids left out in a row on the coffee table.
Every Sunday after church though all of my childhood – we gathered at her house for Sunday lunch. She would make pot roast, pork chops, ham or when she was feeling "lazy" she would pick up fried chicken – but never a Sunday went by without her famous homemade mashed potatoes. She cared about her family and sharing this meal with us was special to her – probably the highlight of her week. She cared so much that nothing could be served in the pot it was cooked in – it had to be in a serving dish all its own – and never ever could paper plates be used – even for dessert. As a teenager with dish duty this seemed like total overkill – but now I realize it was because she truly wanted to make it special for us.
When I left for college - grandma faithfully sent snail mail almost every week telling me what she was up to, asking about what I was up to and how classes were going. She was invested in all of us. She would always ask a specific question about something I had told her on the phone, or in a card I had just written. Her memory was like a steel trap – and if I didn’t answer the questions in her letters or left out details, this would be the first thing she asked about when I saw her in person the next time.
Grandma always welcomed whoever needed welcoming with open arms. When Nate and I started dating - she adopted him right in as another grandkid from day 1. She celebrated everything that was important to us – big and small – and was always interested in everything we did. If we ever asked her for something – no matter what it was – she would take care of it right away – because what was important to us was important to her. I remember asking if I could borrow her pearls for my wedding - she was happy to bring them and they twisted in to the perfect borrowed bracelet.
I feel like Grandma was one of the first people that we as grandkids always wanted to call when we had accomplished something or had news. Not because she would jump up and down and be excited for us – but because her quiet way of saying "well, congratulations" really meant more than a confetti-filled celebration ever could. When it came to being a great-grandma – she was the best at this too. I remember taking our first four-generation picture in the hospital and thinking – this is so awesome – my baby gets to know her great grandma! Skylar dubbed her Mongie when she couldn’t quite get to word Grandma out – and she’s been Mongie ever since. Skylar and Mongie were the best pen-pals - writing letters back-and-forth to each other, drawing pictures and creating word puzzles for each other. On Mongie's 87th birthday - Skylar helped me make her birthday cake and every year after that one – this was "their thing". Skylar would ask Grandma what kind of cake she wanted – to which she always replied – I don’t know – what do you think? Skylar would make a suggestion and that's what Grandma would ask for. I always knew that those moments watching Skylar and her form a relationship and watching Wyatt love her well were special… but until now I didn’t realize just how special.
For the last two years, Grandma has faithfully prayed my family through the adoption process. I am thankful that several weeks ago, I was able to share with her the face that was an answer to her prayers and through teary eyes she gave her same soft-spoken congrats. Grandma was more than just a grandma – she was a friend. Skylar asked me when she went to heaven "why couldn’t she stay just a little bit longer" – and I wish I had the answer to that question. There are so many more moments in our lives that I know we will miss her being a part of. I also know that in her 90-almost-one years of life –she loved us all the absolute best she could – and we can honor her by living our lives the same way – by putting Jesus and others before ourselves. We will miss her – but thankful for the hope that we have in Jesus and that in heaven one day we will meet again face to face.