Sunday, February 5, 2012

Ode to My Grandparents

My grandparents played a huge role in my life. They were a constant support. Their home a constant retreat in our military lifestyle. My grandpa passed away eight years ago when I was pregnant with my first child, a boy named after him and who reminds me of him in so many ways.

Grandma passed away last night, quite peacefully after ninety some years. She had a very full and long and I hope happy life. I will miss her terribly. I will always remember the sight of her across the hall from me in her house robe, in bed reading, or in later years listening to scriptures. Or in the kitchen, while I sat next to her on the high stool as she prepared pies or date bars. Or in her rocker in the den with a book and her feet propped on a little stool. Or in the front yard with us, playing a game of croquet after dinner. Or enjoying a glass of iced tea on the screened in porch as we all sat around talking and enjoying each other's company on lazy summer evenings. Or canning dilly beans with my mother. Or pulling her into my room when she came for a visit and sharing my own stories of faith with her. So many memories. And there is so much I am thankful for.

I am thankful that I am able to know her a little more through pictures like these.



And through stories I was able to pay attention to through the years.

Their first date was a double date. Only, they weren't each other's dates. They were staying in the same boarding house, and Robert was taken with Edna, but she was seeing someone. She offered to set him up with an acquaintance of hers and they doubled. But, grandpa was persistent and won her over eventually. Can you blame her, though? Look how handsome he was.



That second picture is my favorite of him. It fits him to a tee. As long as I can remember grandpa was always reading, usually at least three books at once. Their downstairs was lined and lined with books.

The story goes, when he was on shore leave in Florida during WWII he sent for her, she took a train and married him before he shipped out again. She arranged it all, no family present. You can tell they were happily in love.


After the war, they had two children. My mother, and her baby brother. Grandpa went from being a Navy fighter pilot to an FBI agent working under Hoover. You can imagine it wasn't an easy life. But, they lived it, together and love endured. I will always remember their 50th wedding celebration and how flirty my grandfather was with my grandmother. I will always remember the Thanksgiving that she was in the hospital and how he was practically climbing the walls and pacing until he could be with her again.


They retired to a quiet community, where they made friends and Grandpa was the sociable guy I had in later years learned he was. He could talk to anyone and make them comfortable. It's one of the things I loved most about him. He developed kidney failure and had to go to dialysis. When he was in the later stages of pancreatic cancer, an ambulance took him to his treatments. The two drivers came to his funeral because he had been so nice to them. I miss him terribly.

I am thankful that Grandma was able to come to my wedding. She gave me a handkerchief to carry that day. She gave words of wisdom. And she gave me a sense that I was a part of the line of women in my family.


I am thankful that my husband got to know her. And she him.


I am so grateful that she got a chance to meet and hold all of my children. Especially my daughter.


I am grateful that I was able to travel last month to see her with my daughter. She was her old self. It was the last time she really was so. The timing was perfect, and I am so so thankful.

I am so glad that I called her as often as I did as a grownup. I feel like I got to know her in a different way through those phone calls.

Mostly, I am so grateful for so many memories given how far apart we have always lived. It gives me hope that though we live so far from our families, our parents will still have such profound impacts on our children's hearts and lives.

God Speed Grandma. Tell Grandpa that we love and miss him still. Thank you for all that you have taught me. Until we meet again.


Joy Light said...

Susan, Reading this tribute to your grandmother was very heartwarming. Thank you!


Alice said...

I'm so sorry for your loss, Susan. This ode brought me to tears, as I remembered my grandma through your beautiful writing. Let's just be happy that she's with your grandpa now and that she was able to see all your children.

-Alice Byrne