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
BOTH OF THEM.
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.|
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
dealing with cows
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.
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
teaching Sunday school
sewing a costume
writing out a card.
sounds a lot like my mom and aunt
(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
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.