My grandma passed away last week. She has been in a lot of pain towards the end, so of course we are happy she is finally at peace. However, we are going to miss her and are excited to see her again some day. This is a weird experience for me because I don’t feel much. Maybe it’s the anxiety medication I’m on, who knows. But I’m sure at some point it will hit me and I’ll turn into a blubbering, tear-stained mess – at an inconvenient time, of course. Regardless, I’d like to recount some of my favorite memories.
Salt in the inkwell
When I was really little, my mom would occasionally drop me off at my grandma and grandpa’s house for the afternoon. (I remember it happening more than once, but who knows, maybe it was just once haha!) My grandma collects small, adorable trinkets that are usually very old and way cool looking – things like thimbles, spoons, small figurines and the like. Oftentimes these items are made of pewter, because she loves pewter! I remember taking one of her pewter salt shakers and walking around her dining room and living room, exploring all her little trinkets, which were all at eye-level or just above because of how short I was. I took the salt shaker and sprinkled salt into all of them, leaving little white granules in her glass ink well and around her porcelain figurines. (A little bit of a background here – I loved salt as a kid. Like I seriously ADORED it. I would eat it plain, and I would sneak bullion cubes, unwrap those salty gems and just lick them. I probably has some deficiency or something but it all turned out fine – I mean, I’m still alive, right!) When my mom came back to pick me up, my grandma whispered to my mom how cute it was that there was salt in all these funny places because of me. As a little girl I remember getting embarrassed very easily, but the way my grandma affectionately recounted the story to my mom in a hushed tone with a happy chuckle somehow relieved me of feeling embarrassed – which she should get major kudos for, because few people could manage that. She was a kind, sincere person, never looking to hurt or embarrass anyone, including her young granddaughter.
High School Visits
When I was in high school, and grandma moved by herself to Cornell Estates, as my grandpa had passed away a few years prior. She was about 15 minutes from our house so we could see her more often and she would come to church with us every week and we’d occasionally see her otherwise. My freshman and sophomore year of high school, I was in a community orchestra. I carpooled with some other people, who happened to live very close to my grandma’s new retirement home. Every week after orchestra rehearsal, I would stop by my grandma’s place and visit with her. I had never read “Where the Red Fern Grows” and I knew my grandpa had liked it, so I would read it aloud to my grandma or we would chat. This was in no way monumental, but it was really great for me to consistently spend time with her over a long period of time. I remember always worrying I was staying to long, but I think she enjoyed the company and wasn’t eager to have me leave.
A rite of passage
My grandma had a divider in her small studio apartment where she had pictures of all her grandchildren. Any time we had a formal dance, she’d request a photo and she’d put it up on the divider. I figured she’d like to see the real deal instead of just a picture, so on prom night, before all the dinner and dancing, my date and another couple in our group went to visit my grandma so she could see my dress. We sat there with some of her friends from Cornell Estates and chatted for a little while. It was fun to be able to include her in the rite of passage . In addition, she got to see the dress that my mom and I altered together (complete with roses made out of fabric trailing down the front of the gown).
General relativity in missionary work
Missions are hard, and it’s one of the best things in the WORLD is when you get a letter in the mail. Why? Because you actually have time to read it! (My mission had time restrictions on email time, I don’t know about your’s.) My grandma faithfully hand-wrote me a letter every single week of my mission. That may not seem like a big deal, but I’m convinced that civilian life goes faster than missionary life. So when you think you wrote your missionary 2 weeks ago, it was actually 8 months ago to the missionary. It’s a strange phenomena. For example, you may think, “I’m doing pretty good! I write my missionary every once in a while!” your missionary may be thinking that you’re hopeless as her mail box collects cobwebs. Anyways, my theory of general relativity as it applies to missionaries only emphasizes how amazing it is that my grandma wrote me EVERY SINGLE WEEK! She would often share a scripture, tell me about the garden at Cornell Estates, or tell me about the book she was currently reading. I always appreciated that she thought of me often and it meant a lot to me that she told me she was proud of me. She always used this phrase a lot, but it meant so much while doing discouraging work all day – it was nice to have someone consistently tell you that at just the time you need it. She did this great service for me, illustrating how caring and loving she is.
Reefton in the Dark
At the end of my mission, my totally awesome mom (who also wrote to me and sent me AWESOME packages btw) came and toured my mission with me. We were heading from Christchurch across the south island to the west coast, to a small town called Westport. My mom may or may not have caused a car accident within 2 hours of arriving in the country so I was the only one driving while we toured the country. (Changing to the left side of the road is hard, okay!) While we were driving from Christchurch to the West Coast, I got really tired and pulled over for a quick cat nap. We continued our journey and trucked along, taking in the beautiful NZ scenery. Once we got to Reefton, it was dark and pouring rain. We had reservations at a hostel in Karamea that night, and had about 2.5 hours left to go of driving. Along that road there was a one-way bridge that was hard enough to navigate in the daytime. As we crossed a railroad track to head out of Reefton, I said, “Don’t tell the members in Westport that I drove on this road in these conditions…” At that point we decided that this was kind of a dumb decision, and we headed back into Reefton. We searched around for a backpacker’s to stay at, and wound up renting an entire house for the night for $75 when it was normally over $200 to do so. Miracle! The next morning we stopped at an i-site (a tourist “help me” center) to find the local library so we could use the computer before heading out of town. While my mom spoke with the employee, I wandered around and looked at the merchandise proudly pronouncing “New Zealand.” I found this little stand of pewter animals and excitedly called my mom over. Of all the i-sites I’d been to, I’d never seen pewter souvenirs. We picked out a few quintessential New Zealand animals, like a kiwi bird, to give to grandma. She put them on display in her apartment, beside all her thimbles and small collectibles – they fit in perfectly. The whole chain of events that lead up to us finding the perfect gift for her was evidence to me that Heavenly Father would go to great lengths to provide things for her that she would enjoy. She is obviously very important to Him.
Each seed is a miracle
When I came home from my mission, I had about a month to kill before going back to Provo and starting work. So I decided to plant some seeds and start an amateur window garden. That took all of 30 minutes – with 3 weeks left to go. So I started visiting my grandma, and just chatted with her. I recorded those conversations, which I’m really glad we have now. On my mission I fell in love with family history because my mission president encouraged us to use it in our proselyting – that’s where the recording idea came from. During one of these conversations I told her about my little garden and how amazed I was that I could sprout seeds in the dark, in a warm mini-greenhouse contraption I had made. We connected on this and she agreed how amazing gardening was. She told me that every single seed is a miracle. She shared some other things with me that I will treasure – especially her memories of my aunt Janice passing away. Those visits were sweet and meaningful and I feel closer to her because of them.
I love my Grandma, and I feel a special connection to her. I’m sure all the grandkids feel the same, but I feel like she is a kindred spirit to me and I’m glad she is part of my family. I will always treasure my memories of her, and I am looking forward to seeing her again in the next life.