Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Grandma Alice

I have spent a year trying to write this very post. I have visited and written and re-written it so many times I have lost count. But it is important to post my feelings about my dear grandmother.

It is difficult to fully appreciate the significance and influence one person may have on another until they have passed from this life, leaving a void. I want to tell you about an incredible woman left an unexplained void in my life only a year ago.

Isn't she positively beautiful?!

My connection to her starts on my birthday. That's right, the day I was born. I have always been proud of the fact that I share my special day with my Grandmother. It is the reason that I have the privilege to share her name as well. My parents gave me her name as my middle name. When I was young, I felt that made me very special... and it does. Her legacy is one that I hope to live up to.

There are so many fond memories that run through my mind when I think about visiting her. She lived on a ranch. As a child you could not ask for a more magical place to visit. There were cats to hunt (since they were feral, it was a literal hunt for the kittens if I wanted to hold one, which I always did), ATVs to ride, and mountains to explore. Every night after dinner we would wash the dishes in the sink, then take the scraps out to "feed the chickens." That usually meant that I got to toss the feed everywhere and Grandma would collect the eggs (because those chickens were mean!). Then I would accompany her to the horse barn where I would climb on the hay bales and watch her lift those heavy loads of feed into their bins. I thought she must be the strongest woman in the world... and I still believe it.

There were always hummingbirds flitting from the feeders on the back porch, and adventures to be had everywhere you looked. It is a heaven on earth and that ranch has a special place in my heart. But what made that place so special was Grandma. So many times we would arrive there late at night, she would wait up for us, the heater would be on in the front room, and we would find her there waiting to welcome us home. Some times, despite the hour, we would stay up and chat or play a game of cards.

She was so gifted and talented in her ability to create beautiful things. She took up toll painting and painted beautiful things on plates that lined her living room. She also painted the grand kids special Christmas ornaments for years. They are still the ornaments that go on my tree today. They are beautiful and I know that she thought of me as she made them. I looked forward to those ornaments every year.

One of my favorite memories of my grandmother happened on a weekend that the horses got out through the gate. They made their way to the ponds, where we could see them from the porch. At that time, Grandma used an old golf cart to get around the ranch... When we saw the horses finding the greener grass on the other side, she got up and went out the door. All of the sudden, around the corner of the house we see Grandma on her golf cart. She drove around them and herded those two horses back through the fence with amazing speed and agility. I don't know if John Wayne could have done a better job, and it made it better that she was driving a golf cart.

She is an inspiration to me. She did not live an easy life. Hers was a journey of heartache and loneliness. Yet I didn't get the sense that she lived with self-pity nor did she seem to need (or want) help from everyone. She didn't wish for things to be better. She made things work for her, or she did without.

I never met my grandpa, he passed away long before I came around. I loved to have her tell me the story of how she met him. She always smiled a sly smile when she told me how she went to a dance with a another guy and left with "Bob." I like to think that their reunion was a sweet one, though she probably gave him a stern talking to about leaving her there for so long...

It was difficult for me to watch her body deteriorate over time. The difficult life she led left her body in pretty bad repair... She spent a long time in the nursing home in town. I remember when she was moved there because it was physically impossible to live on the ranch alone. I remember feeling like the woman in that room was not my grandmother. I hated to see such a free, independent spirit stuck in a bare hospital room... Her mind was sharp as a tack until the day she died. Her body just wouldn't comply... She had to adjust. And she did. That fiery lady I knew and loved came back. She eventually recovered enough to take trips to the town park and we would have to run to keep up with her motorized wheelchair. That time was full of all sorts of new kinds of memories.

Family was so very important to her. She loved each of her children so much I could see it in her face when she talked about them. Every inch of her wall was covered with of pictures of her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. She loved to point to each one and tell us about this baby or that event. And I will never forget the glow of joy on her face when she was able to go to the St. George temple to have her son sealed to her. I am so glad I got to be there for such a tender moment for her.
Brayden's first time to Kanab. We got a 4 generation picture there at the city park!

St. George Temple. Grandma was so happy, it made me cry. 

I learned from her that your story can be simple and less glamorous than the rest of the world consider great, but it is all about your family. She was a rock, a solid foundation for her family. A haven for those traveling (at least she was for me). She exemplifies strength, courage, wisdom, patience, unconditional love, all with a sense of humor wrapped up in one. She is my hero.

My ability to write does not do this amazing woman justice. I admire her and hope to live up to the legacy she left for me. I am grateful for the opportunity I had to know such an incredible woman, and I know the world is a better place because of the 91 1/2 years she spent in it.

I love her and I miss her so much. But I am so very grateful for the knowledge of eternal families. I am glad to know that I get to see her, meet my grandpa, and be with them again. And so I wish her all the blessings of heaven. Until we meet again dear Grandma Alice. Say hello to everyone for me!