Tomorrow would have been my Great Grandmother’s birthday. I always loved that her birthday was on Halloween. A little over a year ago she passed away… and I began writing this post. It’s hard to put into words how much you love someone. I wish the world could have known by Great Grandma, Ardel, or as we would call her, Grandma A.
My dear Grandma did not have an easy life. Early in her life she lost both her parents. She was orphaned and separated from her siblings. Things seemed up when she met another young man who had lost his parents. She married this young man named Denny and soon they began a family. While she was pregnant with her second daughter her husband was in a terrible accident and passed away. I thought a lot about this as a new bride, losing someone I loved so much, and it hurt me to think about the pain she must have felt. Despite so many trials in her life she was always so trusting in the Lord.
I had such a special relationship with my Grandma. She began influencing my life very early on. We actually with lived my Grandma until I was 7. She was the one who taught my how to read, and about the quails in the neighborhood. She always had a beautiful garden, especially the tulips and daffodils. I loved picking the fresh raspberries and strawberries that she grew on the fence. I would spend hours looking for roly polys and ladybugs. She would scratch my back and night before I fell asleep and always made sure I had a cup of warm milk.. It really was an amazing few years. It was as if I had not just one, but two amazing mom’s.
Gardening with Grandma:
When we moved away on my 7th birthday I cried leaving the only life I had ever known, but mostly I cried knowing I wouldn’t be seeing Grandma A every day. We spent almost every summer with her after the move and every time I left I silently, or not so silently, cried in the back of the car. I loved her and I loved my childhood home (below).
When we weren’t with her in the summer we wrote letters back and forth. Sometimes I was very good about it, and sometimes months would pass before I wrote, but she always wrote. She would send us a few dollars to spend on ice cream and I always hoped the next letter would have a little surprise in it for us. I remember wanting to do something nice for her too, so I sent her a dollar so she could get herself an ice cream.
During my sophomore year of college I got to live with Grandma A for a semester. I remember my dad’s cousins always staying in her house while they were in school and I was excited that it was finally my turn. Once again as an adult, I had a chance to live with her and get to know her even more. She still had ice cream bars in the freezer and I ended up eating one, or two, every night…Which is probably why I gained a few pounds. That didn’t worry Grandma because she was always telling me how skinny I was anyway. I learned that she was a huge Utah Jazz fan and she knew all of her favorite players by name. We both loved Taco Bell and would go walk around the corner and eat there together. She loved to go on walks, and even in her 90′s liked to exercise by walking up the stairs or walking around the neighborhood.
As I got older one of my greatest desires was for her to be at my wedding. With every year that passed I grew increasingly worried that it might not be possible. I am so lucky that she could be with me at my wedding and it is something I will never forget. She hated having her picture taken. But I thought she aged so gracefully and I treasure the pictures we have of her.
The morning of my wedding:
Once when we were in Colorado, visiting from Chicago, I had the impression that we should go visit my Grandma. We got in the car and drove just to see her. We did the things we always did, played cards and shared a meal together. She kept telling me how we need to trust in the Lord more because He has a plan for us. Her testimony and faith always inspired me and still does.
As it came time to leave I didn’t want to go. Even though I have been so blessed to have so much of her in my life, I wanted more time with her. True to form, I cried on the drive home.
The last picture taken of my great grandmother and I. I’m so grateful my sister took this of us. :)
Her funeral was so special, and was held in the church we went to growing up. I remember sitting in the pews with her, and she would always pass me cinnamon gum from her purse. That piece of gum was one of my favorite parts of church. It felt surreal to be back at the same building, but without her. Not much had changed aesthetically speaking, but it felt empty without her.
A year later and the tears still stream involuntarily every time I think of my Grandma. I have so many dear memories of her, and I want so dearly to hold onto each one. Grandma A always played cards with us. I loved getting out the folding table and all of us playing cards for as long as we could. Whenever we visited her home, she always had eggo waffles which are one of my absolute favorite foods. We could use as much butter and real syrup as we wanted. My grandma knew my friends and later on my boyfriends. It seemed like she had the best memory, always remembering their names and asking about them. She would ask me and my sister if we needed money for new pants, or if we too poor for new pants when she saw us in ripped jeans. She was so witty and always made us laugh. I like to think we all inherited he keen sense of sass, stubbornness, and independence.
I want to remember all the stories she told us about her childhood and our ancestors. I don’t want to forget the sound of her voice, or the feel of her hugs.
Grandma, I miss you. I love you and I hope you are still watching over us.