I'm on my way to Rio this morning - only a couple of weeks late. I'm looking forward to seeing old friends, the beach, the sunshine and figuring out if I remember any of the meager amount of Portuguese I managed to learn.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
For the past couple of weeks I've wanted to blog, but just couldn't find the words to express what was going on in my world. Two weeks ago my grandma had an accident, and even with the best medical care she wasn't able to recover. On November 20, 2008 at 12:00 she passed away. I was at her side and held her hand as she left. This loss has left a whole in my heart.
I've decided to post a portion of the tribute I gave at her funeral to share more about her:
When you say the word “grandma” most people get a mental picture of what a grandma is to them. I’ve always struggled when talking about my grandma, because that normal stereotype has never been adequate. Don’t get me wrong, Grandma S had all the typical characteristics, she was a great cook, kept an immaculate house, made beautiful quilts and afghans, and loved to do things with her grandchildren. But, when I talk about my grandma I always feel compelled to add a little additional information so they can understand that she was so much more.
Not only were there just three of us, we grew up next door to grandma and grandpa which means I don’t remember ever having a babysitter – we’d always just go to grandma’s house. I don’t remember a school program or activity that grandma and grandpa weren’t in the audience to support us.
I spent every Friday night and Saturday morning at grandma’s house, she’d let me stay up late to watch shows mom and dad probably would have outlawed and she let me get up as early as I wanted to watch Saturday morning cartoons, it was every kid’s paradise.
Grandma was responsible for teaching me how to shop, which still ranks right up at the top of my list of favorite things to do. She taught me the importance of bringing things home to try them on before deciding – so you could test it out with your shoes and accessories. She taught me that when you are shopping at a mall it’s smarter not to buy as you are making your first round of the stores, instead just decide what you like but before you buy it, have the store hold it and make sure you’ve seen what else the mall has to offer before you commit. Following this advice has saved me tons of money and prevented a few disastrous fashion choices. Grandma taught me one other shopping lessons that I haven’t had to use yet, but I’m sure I will someday - when bringing new clothing home, it’s safer to stash them in the back of the closet and not wear it for a week or two, when your spouse asks where you got it, you can honestly say “this old thing? It’s just something I pulled out from the closet.”
Grandma made sure we had photographs of all of the special events in our lives. She was the official family photographer. We’d get all lined up for the photo, have our best smiles pasted on, would say cheese, and then nothing. A big groan would go up – as everyone realized she’d forgotten to wind the camera again. Not only did grandma take the photos, she made sure they were properly labeled and placed in photo albums. When I need to find a photo of any of us when we were younger, the first place I go is the albums that grandma kept – it’s much faster than digging through the shoe boxes I kept.
One day last week as I was sitting in the hospital struggling to come to terms with losing grandma, I noticed a copy of the conference edition of the Ensign (a monthly magazine from the LDS Church) that mom had brought in. I picked it up and started thumbing through it, the title of Elder Wirthlin’s talk jumped out at me “Come What May, and Love It.” My immediate thought was how anyone could love what we were going through in that moment. I didn’t get a chance to read the article then, but it stayed in my mind so when I got home that evening I looked up the talk and started to read. I’ve been back to this article many time in the past week and while there is nothing that could make me love losing grandma the talk has brought me a great deal of comfort and has helped me look at what we’ve been going through in a different light.
Elder Wirthlin said, “Every life has peaks and shadows and times when it seems that the birds don’t sing and bells don’t ring. Yet in spite of discouragement and adversity, those who are happiest seem to have a way of learning from difficult times, becoming stronger, wiser, and happier as a result.”
Elder Wirthlin suggests in times of difficulty or sorrow that we seek for the eternal, he says, “the dial on the wheel of sorrow eventually points to each of us. At one time or another, everyone must experience sorrow. No one is exempt. Learning to endure times of disappointment, suffering and sorrow is part of our on-the-job training. These experiences, while often difficult to bear at the time, are precisely the kinds of experiences that stretch our understanding, build our character, and increase our compassion for others.”
I’ve been greatly comforted as I’ve tried to take Elder Wirthlin’s advice and put this in the eternal perspective. I know that grandma is in a better place, a place where her body is whole and strong, a place where she is surrounded by loved ones, including her beloved mother. I know without a doubt that she is able to watch over us and will continue to be a part of our lives. And, I know that I will see her again. I’m learning to accept that Heavenly Father called her home, and while I may not understand why she had to go now, I have faith that it was a part of Heavenly Father’s plan.