When I was thinking about how to describe Grammie, the phrase “pure of heart” immediately popped into my mind. Because that is who she was. A person with a heart so pure and full of love – willing to share that love with her family every day. In both large and small manifestations. And never asking for anything in return – except to know how you are and what you have been up to. Anytime you would call and say, “how are you doing, Gram?” she would reply, “same old, same old. Tired, achy, sinuses, etc. Now, what is going on with you?” And she would listen to you as long as you need to talk. She was the most interested audience any of us have ever had. Fascinated in every aspect of our lives – thrilled when we were happy; devastated when we were sad. Always helping simply by believing in you.
It is easy to believe in yourself with Grammie on your side. What I don’t think she ever realized, though, was how wise and impactful she was to so many people. She didn’t think she was worldly or very intelligent, but she had knowledge of the heart and years of experience that helped each of us in a different way. And we know she will continue believing in us.
Grammie did not have an easy childhood. She grew up very quickly to assume the role of caretaker. When she married Grandaddy and had children, grandchildren and then great-grandchildren, she poured all the love she had always wanted and all the love she had into her family. She taught us valuable lessons: respect, how to be fair to one another, how to listen, how to forgive, to believe in the power of love and to believe in yourself.
Love. I don’t ever remember having a conversation with Gram that didn’t end in I love you. Until the very end, when she couldn’t move around as freely, the last thing we would see when driving away from the house would be Grammie standing in the window of the front door, waving. A symbolic I love you.
Forgiveness. Grammie embodied this trait. Any and all transgressions were forgivable – sometimes you didn’t even have to ask for that forgiveness. Sometimes all you had to do was say you were sorry. And all was right with the world when Grammie would smile at you and you knew everything was going to be OK.
What did Grammie like to do? Besides spend time with her family, she learned a hobby in later years that kept her very busy. Scrapbooking. This was almost more than a hobby… it was an obsession. As a matter of fact, when she was in the hospital this last time, she said she couldn’t go yet because she was on a mission. She was determined to finish scrapbooks for my Mom, Aunt Mary, Uncle Johnny and Aunt Peggie and she said then she could rest. And finish them she did. And these aren’t just any scrapbooks. They are masterpieces of creativity and Grammie poured the love she felt into each and every page. Unselfishly, she never made a scrapbook for herself.
Her next favorite hobby was shopping. I will never forget one particular marathon shopping trip. We were in Marshall’s (of course) and I noticed Gram’s oxygen was running low. She was standing in the shoe section of the store when I ran out, grabbed the other tank from the car, and came back in to change it. I said, “Gram, why didn’t you tell me you were running low?” She said, “I didn’t want to bother you, Hon, we are in the shoe section after all!” Selfless shopper – that was Grammie.
Birthdays. Sonny & Cher, Captain & Tennille, Miss Piggy & Kermit… they’ve got nothing on Bud and Anne. That’s right; the greatest duet that ever lived is Bud and Anne. Every birthday you could count on one thing – hearing the 2 of them serenade you with Happy Birthday. The best would be if they messed up and had to start over… their fits of laughter during the song were as great as the song itself.
The only thing better than hearing them sing you happy birthday was Grammie’s birthday. Giving a gift to Grammie is one of the best experiences anyone can have. She would fuss over you and the gift like you’ve never seen saying, “Oh Hon, you shouldn’t have!”… But definitely glad you did – every time! At her 75th birthday, the entire family went in on some wrought iron bookshelves for her to put her family pictures, books, etc. on. When she opened up those boxes, it was as if she had been given solid gold! I would show you the picture of Grammie with a big yellow bow on her head but she would not be happy with me. The pictures of Grandaddy in the same bow are equally priceless!
Grammie’s devotion to her family was rivaled only by Grandaddy’s devotion to her. Their love of 56 years is an inspiration. Grandaddy loved waiting on Grammie and she loved bossing him around. She would invite you to dinner, ask what you wanted, and then inform Grandaddy what he was making. He would pretend to be peeved about it but you know he loved every minute.
Humor. Laughing was an integral part of Grammie’s life. And she laughed up until her very last days. The true beauty of Grammie’s humor was in its innocence. Sometimes she had no idea what she said was funny and was shocked when everyone laughed. One night, as Mom and Uncle Johnny sat in Grammie’s room chatting, she tried to speak. Mom said, “Mom, are you trying to say something?” Thinking she was ready to pass on some wisdom. To which Grammie responded, “Th-th-that’s all folks!” Another night, a week or so ago, Mom and Grandaddy were sitting on the bed next to Grammie talking about what would come next, who she would see, etc. Suddenly, Gram opened her eyes, turned her head and said, “You all are scaring me to death!” Laughter erupted… that was her, laughing and enjoying life until the end.
Generous. Grammie would give you anything she could. Literally, if you complimented something she had she’d sometimes try and give it to you. Even if it wasn’t hers she’d try to give it to you. Like the time she was out to lunch with one of her girlfriends and her girlfriend admired the creamer on the table. Outside in the car, Grammie produced the creamer from her purse – cream and all – for her friend! Thievery was a rare occurrence, but she would do anything for the people she loved. Every single one of us in the family was spoiled by Grammie (and you too Grandaddy), and I’m not ashamed to admit it!
The last gift she gave her family was the ability to say goodbye. During her last weeks, Grammie was surrounded by her family – day and night. And each of us shared some private moments with her – a time when we were able to say what we need to say; to share how we felt about her; to kiss her forehead and squeeze her hand. And she was able to do the same with each of us. This is a special blessing we will thank God for the rest of our lives. Grammie left us without a single doubt as to how much she was loved and how grateful her family was to have been loved by her.
To know Grammie was to feel loved, understood and accepted. Imagine everything you would want in a spouse, mother, sister, grandmother, friend and that is what we had in her. To say she will be missed is a gross understatement. But her legacy to each of us is to love, to be fair, to listen, to laugh and to never miss an opportunity to say “I love you”. Her family and friends loved her and will continue to love her more than words can express.
And if you close your eyes, and sit very still, you can feel her presence here – waving I love you to all of us.