Sunday, April 3, 2011

They Shall Call You Blessed

Nothing on earth can make up for the loss of one who has loved you. ~Selma Lagerlog

My grandma was a great lady!  No matter what others did, Grandma always held fast to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and to her church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I was very lucky to grow up in Grandma’s neighborhood.  Grandma always made sure we grandkids had a ride to church.  I loved rides in her big car, and she always took the most scenic route to church.  Regularly, Grandma would take us to McDonald’s for an ice cream cone.

After Aunt Wynette died, we often went home a different route from church, stopping off at the cemetery for Grandma to tend Wynette’s grave.  When my sister and I started taking piano lessons, we took them with Grandma’s piano teacher.  Grandma was retired, but she made sure that she never stopped learning and doing.  She always had a garden of some sort, and she was quite proud of her azaleas. 
Grandma always had cookies in a jar on the kitchen table, and ice cream in the icebox whenever we came to visit.  There was always candy in a jar on her coffee table.  When I think of Grandma, I will always think of the eggshell blue walls of her living and dining room.  I will never forget the hours my sister and I would dress up in Grandma’s prized costume jewelry she kept organized in egg crates in a dressing table drawer.
Grandma never forgot our birthdays and when Grandpa died, she made sure his tradition of a silver dollar each birthday, and later when the silver dollars were gone, a paper dollar was sent by her.  Through the years, during Sacrament meetings, though I might have been far from Grandma, I would feel her near as the congregation would sing songs that I could still hear her sing.  I knew exactly how she would sound if she were sitting next to me, and I would start to cry and I would miss her.
Grandma gave me some of her old Relief Society manuals that I cherish and read often because she must have served as a Relief Society teacher and she had planned out her lessons in the book.  Grandmother loved church.  Her home was filled with many things she learned from church such as family history.  She served as a faithful visiting teacher and fed the missionaries regularly.  She helped with mission funds of family members.  She was obedient to the prophet and many a Saturday when I came by, she would have her scriptures out on her large dining room table and be studying for the next day’s Sunday School lesson. 
Grandma is always the example I use when I have friends at church whose husband or children are not active.  I always say that Grandma did everything possible so that when she was finally able, she received her endowments and attended the temple as often as she could, though she was quite elderly by then.  She never let others’ behavior keep her from living the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.
Grandma never sold her large house--she wanted everyone to have a place to go for the holidays.  She truly cared for her family.  She always had her camera ready to take a picture and capture that moment.  I have plenty of these photographic mementos in my albums.  Her hall was littered with a time capsule of photographs and genealogy.
A year before she died, I spent the night with Grandma.  She had not been eating.  I made her a breakfast of things that she could swallow easily.  I got ready to wash up the dishes while she ate but she didn’t start to eat.  I asked her what was wrong.  She said she wanted me to sit down and eat with her, so I prepared a plate and sat with her.  She bowed her head and blessed the food.  Then she ate everything on her plate as we talked quietly.  I was humbled.  How often do we treat the elderly as children and not give them the dignity and respect that they deserve as our elders.  She did not want to be waited on, she wanted to visit.  Grandma taught me how to help the elderly as I visit teach or assist them, or check on them, or help them through the funerals of their spouses.
It has been a privilege to know my Grandma; perhaps that’s why I chose in the preexistence to be born into her family.  I don’t know what went on before my 42 years on this earth, but as long as I have known Grandma, though flawed she may have been, she lived her life beyond reproach.  I often try to emulate her and I know she has been accepted into God’s presence.  When I knew she was gone, I took out a book she wrote of her personal history. I wanted to look at pictures of her.  Of all the pictures in there, the one that looks most like I remember her was of her on her 81st birthday in her beautiful home.  She is wearing a lovely all-white dress.  Yes, I thought, with tears streaming down my face, Grandma is with her God, she is with my God. God bless you Grandma.
A house needs a grandma in it. ~Louisa May Alcott

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