Monday, May 20, 2013

Adjustable Spirit

My grandmother, MaMa, went to be with the Lord May 14th.

She was 87 years old and due to be released from the hospital after a bout of pneumonia the day she died of a sudden heart attack.

My aunt Connie said it best when she said the doctor told her she could go home on Tuesday:

"We thought the doctor meant home to her apartment, but he meant HOME home."


I have a fabulous family of deep faith.

Our family reunions always included singing of hymns and lots of talk of "our friend Jesus".

There is no question where my grandmother is right now.

She is home.

But oh, how she will be missed.

I am 43 years old and still had a grandmother until a week ago.

I don't feel like I have the right to complain about grief when I know people my age who have lost their parents


And here I sit with the absolute privilege that my husband knew both sets of my grandparents.

They were at our wedding.

PaPa, me, Monte and MaMa at our wedding 17 years ago.
They prayed for Monte when we thought he had cancer in our first year of marriage.

My grandfather, PaPa, hugged and told Monte he loved him every time he saw him.

Monte never got that from his own grandfathers

so he treasured it from mine.

My girls knew their great-grandparents, great-great-aunts and great-great-uncles.

We won't even get into 2nd and 3rd cousins.

Over and over at MaMa's funeral we heard stories of how she just took people in.

Made them her family.

She was honestly an aunt to many

but took in more where no blood relation existed.

You know, it was before my wedding that I was told that two people who had always been in my life were not blood related to me.

I was shocked because they had always been there, 
at every family event.

I spoke with the only one who is still living of the pair this past week.

Joe asked if he could call me and stop by when he was in our area.

I was so touched

and I couldn't say yes fast enough.

I haven't had a grandpa in almost 11 years

and Joe was one of the many that my grandparents took in.

And he is paying it forward to fill in the gaps for me now that they are gone.

And bless his heart,

I'm going to let him.

My mom, Joe and Aunt Connie.

The stories of my grandmother and grandfather were aplenty this past week as we gathered to honor her.

Knowing she is not only with Jesus now

but also once again with my grandfather.

These stories told of how MaMa mothered everyone around her.

How she could gently advise you with a "Oh, Honey" with such gentle grace that you didn't feel lectured.

How she quickly adjusted to being a farmer's wife 

driving tractors
dealing with cows
and chickens
and mice (that she despised and feared)
and an outhouse
with a quick and easy proficiency

as if she didn't grow up 
with the conveniences of being in town 
with indoor plumbing.

The farm.

Her brother Barney talked about this "adjustable spirit" at the funeral. 

How it was the best part of her.

Like when she had to start dialysis.
It was tough.
And just wiped her out some days.
But she "adjusted".

The doctors told my mom and aunt that most people her age would only be able to withstand dialysis for about 5 years.

MaMa endured it for 11 years.

She had this ability to take what was given her

and be better for it

not beaten by it.

And laugh about it along the way.
She was so funny.

And could sing!

There are certain hymns that I cannot sing without hearing her voice and smelling the inside of her small church or tasting the flavor of the butterscotch Lifesavers she'd sneak me to be good and sit still during the sermon.

One time, when my McDaniel was just a toddler, MaMa and PaPa drove over to see us and got McDaniel a balloon.

McDaniel's little hands lost hold of the balloon in a parking lot and MaMa took off like a deer chasing that balloon into traffic practically getting hit by a bus.

I looked at my grandfather in amazement and he just said something to the effect of,

"Let her go. She won't be happy until she gets the balloon back."

When I was about 9 or 10, I got to spend a rare few summer days at the farm with my grandparents all by myself.

Coming from a family with 4 kids, this was a rare treat.

They had an ENORMOUS garden that we would tend to most evenings. 

MaMa decided to teach me which end of a red chili pepper was the hottest and to never eat.

She bit the opposite end of what she had just told me was the hottest

and preceded to take off 

like a rabbit on fire 

to the garden hose.

I had never seen MaMa run that fast before

(until the balloon incident 20 years later).

MaMa sputtered and moaned and prayed out loud a bit as she guzzled water from the garden hose

with me watching her wide-eyed and open-mouthed the whole time.

Finally, she just laughed and laughed and laughed saying,

"Boy, was I wrong!"

I don't eat red chili peppers to this day.

She could make chicken and noodles and macaroni and cheese and yeast rolls that would make you cry

and her sugar cream pie was the stuff of angels.

She was never quite happy with the way I made her sugar cream pie (even though she worked with me and wrote out extensive instructions).

One Thanksgiving I made the pie and she pointed to it and asked with a teence bit of confusion,

"What is this?"

She wrote out the instructions for the pie all over again, walking me through it out loud

all the while my brothers looked on in laughter.

Me and MaMa in her kitchen. 

All of those wonderful dishes were served by her church after the funeral.

They were good but not quite the same.

My mother commented how odd it was to be in a fellowship hall without my grandmother in the kitchen doing the cooking and serving.

She was such a doer.

Always planning a party

decorating a table

crafting centerpieces

teaching Sunday school

sewing a costume

writing out a card.


sounds a lot like my mom and aunt

and me 
(minus the sewing part).

My mom, MaMa and Aunt Connie. All cut from the same cloth.

Yesterday as I helped with a surprise birthday party

decorating tables

crafting centerpieces

and making MaMa's macaroni and cheese,

I felt so incredibly blessed to have MaMa's blood coursing through my veins

and the legacy of her faith in Jesus beating in my heart.

She lives on.

And I will see her again one day.

katherines corner

A Royal Daughter


  1. Karmen,

    I am so very sorry for your loss. This post is such a lovely tribute to her and the legacy she left behind in you and others in your family. Praying God will uplift you and hold you close during this time of grieving. You will see her again - hold tight to that.

  2. Thank you so much, Mindy! You are so dear to pray for me.

  3. What a lovely tribute! She sounds like a precious lady. And I could see her running for that garden hose :) Sweet memories until you see her again.

  4. Hi, just popped over to visit you from my blog. I'm so sorry for your loss, Karmen! Your Grandma was so beautiful and sounds like an incredible lady. Love all your thoughts and pictures. Grace to your family in this season.

  5. Sumita1:11 PM

    What a blessing to have had such a wonderful grandmother -- and you have honored her well in this tribute -- brought tears to my eyes just reading about her love for people, for life, for her Lord and it has inspired me to run the race well just as she did.
    May God continue to comfort you with more precious memories of times with her.

  6. Thank you, Sumita! What a lovely truth: God HAS been flooding me with memories of both my grandmother AND my grandfather. What a great COMFORTER we have in the Lord!

  7. Anonymous5:02 PM

    Simply beautiful Karmen! Sorry for your loss. I still have both grandmothers, but my dad passed away in 2011. Miss him so much ... You have inspired me to start writing down memories/stories of him. When I am home I run in to so many people and it seems they always have a kind word or story about dad. Again I truly enjoyed reading this blog. Bless you!

  8. Thank you, Marsha! So glad you are going to write down stories about your dad. I'd love to read them! Thanks for your kind words!

  9. I have been thinking of you and your family for the last week. I know how close you were and still love hearing stories of your "growing up" years. Grandparents are the best and will be looking over us until we can be with them again. You have another angel in heaven that will be with you always. Love you!!!!

  10. Love you too, Andrea! I miss you!

  11. This is such a lovely post and tribute to your grandmother. She invested her life well. And her smile? GOLDEN!

    Are you in the Midwest? Those cornfields look like ours. :)

    So glad you've linked your beautiful story with us at #TellHisStory. May God comfort you as you grieve. No matter how old our loved ones are, it's hard to say goodbye.

  12. Jennifer,

    Thank you for your kind words! The family farm is in Indiana--good eye on the midwestern corn field! :)

  13. OH, Karm! How I miss you and how I loved reading this tribute to your grandma! I pray you will continue to be flooded with great memories that make your heart smile! Hugs!

  14. What a beautiful tribute. I would have loved to have known her. I"m so glad that you had her in your life for so many years. Blessings!

  15. MIs,

    Thank you so much! I miss you too!

  16. Kathy,
    Thank you for reading this post. LOVED your idea of a mommy food truck! Made me laugh out loud yet I would totally call for a delivery! I subscribed to your blog.

  17. I subscribed to you, too:)

  18. What a beautiful tribute to your adorable grandmother. How blessed to have had her in your life for so long.

  19. You are very lucky to have a family of faith!

    This post is awesome x100

    Visiting/following today from Thursday's Favorite Things.

  20. Dayle,

    Thanks! I WAS blessed to have her in my life for so long.

  21. Oh, you've gone and made me miss my own grandma all over again. She had so much in common with your own...from her days as a farmer's wife to her lavishing love on everyone in her circle of influence.

    I'm so sorry you won't see your own grandma again 'til heaven, but I'm so thankful you have this treasure trove of memories. May they keep you warm company tonight and always...

  22. Kristen,

    So happy you had a grandmother's love like I did! Seems more rare these days…Thanks for your kind words.

  23. Your beautiful post makes one celebrate MaMa's life, not mourn it! How fortunate for you to have her for so much of your life! Visiting from the Thursday Favorite Things Blog Hop!

  24. Thanks, AnnMarie! Glad you found your way to me. I checked out your blog and am SO EXCITED to try your crab boil recipe!

  25. What a wonderful tribute! I am so sorry for your loss, but I am so grateful that you shared the story of your wonderful grandmother! What a blessing!

  26. Thank you, Richella. My grandmother certainly was a blessing.


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