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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Love, personified


Soft, wavy white hair, speckled with a few black strands that refused to back down. That's what I saw as I watched my Grandma sleeping so quietly and so small in the bed at the hospice center a few weeks ago. I leaned in to kiss her wrinkled cheek and followed with my eyes as it led to her beautiful, wrinkled ears. How do ears wrinkle, anyway?

I reached down and rubbed her wrist. Her skin hung loosely, but so softly, around the bones of her arm. Under the pink and white afghan, I could see how much she had shrunk in stature, so tiny in that bed.

I couldn't help but smile. That tiny frame could not contain the enormous strength of my Grandma, of this woman who had born 13 children and buried two, one in infancy and one in adulthood. I looked back at the defiant strands of black in her hair and smiled more. They were a biological symbol of the fight my Grandma had within her.

Death is a part of life. And when my mom called to say Grandma passed away this morning, I was immediately sad for the missing piece of my heart. But I am also filled with joy because if there is anyone who has earned this rest, it is Grandma.

She earned it through the days and nights of worry over her love -- her husband -- off to war and later off to fight fires in his job as a fire chief.

She earned it through more than 65 years of marriage. 

She earned it through the raising and correcting and loving of 13 children. In the thousands of exasperated utterances of "Patricia!" or "Bill!" or "Paul!" -- or pick any other of her children's names. 

She earned it through the thousands of meals, hundred of jars of home-canned foods, mincemeat pies, peanut butter frosted cakes and dozens of gumdrop cookies and springerles that came from her hands.

She earned it through the quiet rituals -- the wooden stable and nativity put under the Christmas tree each year; the cherries pitted with hairpins at the kitchen table on hot (and un-air-conditioned) summer days; the quick and certain kisses she gave to say good-bye at each parting. 

She earned it in the loving, but not indulgent, manner with which she greeted every child who crossed her door. Grandma showed us the only riches you need to raise an army of children and a legion of grandchildren are plenty of love and some chocolate ice cream dished up in avocado-green bowls.

She earned it in the faithful example of her life as a woman of God. It has been said "Preach the Gospel often. Use words if necessary." That was Grandma.

My Grandma was not a woman of many words. (In recent times, the deterioration in her brain loosed some of the quick-witted things she must have been thinking, but not saying for all these years, much to our amusement.) But her actions spoke volumes. They spoke love and compassion, loyalty and service and humility.

This is my Grandma (with my niece Kate):

Gma_kate 

She loved.

She was loved.

She was LOVE.

9 comments:

Erica S. said...

I am very sorry for your loss, Amy. Praying for you and your family at this time.

Lana Wallpe said...

What a beatiful tribute. Hugs to you. I know your heart and arms will feel empty for some time.

CWMartin said...

(Bows head, prays for comfort.)

Auntie Pam said...

Amy, such a wonderful tribute. You obviously inherited her way with words. I am sorry for your loss.

Momza said...

I hope my life inspires such a legacy. Thanks for sharing hers with us.

kimybeee said...

love and prayers to you!!!! you painted a beautiful view of your grandma, how she lived and how she died. it was wonderful!!

Darlene http://adventuresofamiddleagemom.com said...

What a wonderful tribute to a special, special woman. May she rest in peace knowing she lived her life walking with God.
Blessings on your family,
Darlene

Sara Broers said...

What a blessing she has been to all of you- Hugs and prayers.

Andrea Davis said...

A beautiful tribute, Amy. So sorry for your loss.