Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Memories of my Grandma


My sweet Grandma, who lived an incredible 82 years, passed away yesterday.  I am so thankful I had the opportunity to see her one last time just a few short hours before she passed on to bigger and better things.  As I lay in bed last night, the memories of this marvelous woman flooded my mind, and I promised myself to record them while they are fresh.

Grandma was a fighter.  She overcame so many physical trials in her life and always managed to keep a smile on her face.  I don’t ever recall a time when she wasn’t smiling.  Even on the day of my Mom’s wedding last year, when it was cold outside, and she was ill, she managed to smile and looked so happy.  In the face of pain and uncertainty about her physical well-being, she just kept going and kept flashing that beautiful smile.

Along with her beautiful smile came the humming of a song or the whistle of a tune. I believe music was a part of her soul.  She loved to sing and had a beautiful alto voice.  Wherever Grandma was, there was music.  And how she LOVED to hear her kids and grandkids and great-grandkids make music!  I will never forget the way she looked when she watched anyone make music.  It was her own little heaven on earth.

She was so proud of her family.  It was so neat to see her literally glowing as she watched one of her children or grandchildren perform or be recognized for something special, or just participate in a life event,  She gloried in the successes of those she loved and readily shared them with those around her.  She was truly a person possessed of charity, loving without thought of reward.

Grandma made me feel like I was her favorite grandchild.  Even though there were 20 grandkids, I knew I was at the top of her list!  She and Grandpa were at almost all of my Young Women sporting events as a teenager.  She attended my concerts and recitals, and she loved to hear me play or tell her about what was going on in my life.  She always had a compliment or an encouraging word.  “Way to go, Heather,” in her most exuberant and happy voice, is a phrase that I’m sure I will hear in my mind forever. 

Grandma was one of BYU’s two biggest and most loyal fans (Grandpa being the other).  She faithfully attended every basketball and football game with Grandpa (and Harvey and Marion) for more years than I can even count.  If my memory serves me, she didn’t miss a game until she had her first hip replacement.  I can still hear her singing the Cougar Fight Song!  As I talked with her yesterday, her eyes lit up when I asked her about the most recent BYU basketball game, and she was even able to tell me that they won!  I loved when I got to be the one to go to a game on their extra ticket.  There was always a sandwich to eat, possibly a can of root beer to drink, and an enjoyable and memorable few hours.  Even the time spent in traffic after the game was fun, as we listened to Paul James on the radio!

She was an amazing cook.  I recall many Sunday pot roasts, birthday cakes and sloppy joes at her house.  But the one thing she made that stole my heart was raisin-filled cookies.  Oh my!  Those were MY heaven on earth!  She knew how much I loved them and always seemed to have some around whenever I was there.  When she had her hip permanently removed and spent her days moving about in her wheelchair, she managed to cook from her wheelchair.  I was speechless as she happily cooked up hamburgers for us while sitting in her wheelchair!  She was an incredible canner as well.  Every year, as the harvest from her garden would begin to pile up, Grandma would be found hard at work bottling tomatoes and peaches and apricots, putting up her delicious pickles, and drying fruits.  If I had a jar of her pickles, I think I would proudly display it on my shelf as a reminder to me of the amazing person she was.  (And I’m kicking myself for not taking the time to do pickles with her.  I hope one of my aunts knows her recipe and will teach me!)

I’m pretty sure my love of games was fostered at Grandma’s kitchen table.  She loved a good game of cards!  She taught me how to play SkipBo and No Peeky, and I know she loved Rook and Pit as well.  She was patient as I learned, and so much fun to play with.  I’m pretty sure she purposely lost a few games just so I could feel the joy of winning.

Grandma was also a poet.  I don’t think I can recall a birthday card or homemade Valentine that didn’t have one of her signature poems.  I hope I have at least one saved somewhere, as they are truly priceless treasures.  Right up to the end of her life, she remembered the birthdays of all of her grandkids, and even her great grandkids.  There was always a card in the mail with well wishes and a few dollars to go spend on “anything you want!”

And I can’t leave out her ability to sew.  It seemed that most of the time we would visit, her machine would be on the table.  So many were the beneficiaries of her baby sleepers and booties.  My girls treasure their Grandma nightgowns.  And there was often a quilt set up in the basement.  I adored the BYU outfit she made me when I was a young girl, and I wore the sweatpants she made until they were literally nothing but threads. 

I love my Grandma so very much.  My words can never adequately paint the picture of Christ-like love and service she offered for so many years.  I can never fully express what she meant to me and those around her.  I look forward to the day when we will meet again, and for now I am smiling about the incredible reunion that must be happening on the other side of the veil. 


  1. I'm so sorry. She sounds amazing and you have lots of great memories of her. I'm so glad you were able to say goodbye to her. We are thinking of you at this time.

  2. This is very moving, Heather. Thinking about what you had with one of the most special people in your heart is not easy, and writing them down is even more heart breaking as well. But then, it can also be refreshing though, because it makes us realize how important that person is to us. Thanks for sharing your days with your grandma!

    Demetrius Flenaugh