Mr. Great's grandmother passed away last week. I will never forget how Granny smiled with her whole face, how she freely and earnestly said "I love you," how she taught us about pomegranate seeds and told stories of bird-watching and Holland tulips, and how she brushed Big Sister's hair until Big Sister nearly fell asleep. I will always treasure the Raggedy Ann doll she made for Big Sister, then a baby, and the memories of Granny's visit to our house for Little Brother's Christmas birthday. I am honored to have known Granny, and so thankful that she got to know my children.
Sunday night we gathered with family, and the funeral was Monday. Mr. Great spoke on behalf of the grandkids, a hard job that he was honored to have. I'm proud of him for the heartfelt speech he gave. Although I had a hand in putting together the words, I could never have spoken them without falling apart. I'm sharing the words here, as a reminder to myself and our family of what Granny meant to us, but also as a reminder to anyone reading of what is important in life.
Many of you knew my grandmother as Fay, but to us she was Granny. Last night, we grandkids gathered around a table to share our memories of Granny. I am here to share some of our thoughts.
We loved our Granny. We loved how she was always so happy to see us, greeted us with a big smile, and gave us a tight, tight hug. We loved how she made us feel warm and safe, kept us well fed, and let us know that each of us is important and special. We always wanted to make her proud and never let her down.
We learned a lot from Granny. Not only from what she said, but how she lived and who she was.
Granny was selfless, one of the most caring people you will ever meet. To many of us, selflessness means self-sacrifice. But to Granny, caring for others never meant a loss; rather, it was Granny's gain to see how, by putting us before herself, we became stronger and happier. She certainly took great care of her family. She was the bedrock; she stuck with us through good times and bad. She taught us that families see each other through life's challenges and that we hold each other up when we feel like falling down. She was accepting, even with all of our flaws, and she didn't judge even when she disagreed. She helped us when we needed it, and showed us the healing power of a big Granny squeeze. She lifted us up in celebration of our achievements, special moments, and even holidays. With so many kids and grandkids, there was always a graduation, a special award, a merit badge, or a playoff game. And in recent years, weddings and births, even great-grandkids. She kept a welcoming home that we loved to visit. There was never a shortage of great homecooking, fried pies in the refrigerator, or Snicker bars in the freezer. And, there was never a shortage of cheerful laughter and love. One the warmest sounds you could ever hear was Christmas Eve at Granny and Pa's. And, almost all of us grandkids remember visiting the farm and exploring country life with Granny by our side.
Granny taught us the importance of living with faith. She held a deep commitment to God and church, praying every day and thanking God for the blessings bestowed on her, and on all of us. She was musically gifted, making her a valuable part of the church's music ministry. She was a fixture in the church choir. We could see her every Sunday behind the minister, singing with a smile or playing handbells. Granny's contribution to the church did not end with music. She also served as a leader in Sunday School classes, she would take attendance at the church door, she managed several church office functions, and she would lend a helping hand at church fundraisers and pancake suppers. And, of course, the church could rely on Granny's tithe every month, even when the piggy bank was light. This was her way of demonstrating that our relationship with God is important and must be made a priority.
The importance of faith in Granny's life extended to faith in self as well. She was steadfast and tough. She never whined or complained. She showed us that, although we may not have all the things that we want, the Lord has given us the things that we need and the tools to make it through a hard time. This from a woman whose mother used cardboard from paper tablets to replace the soles on her shoes. Rooted in her humble upbringing, Granny reminded us to stand tall and proud, and to stand up for ourselves and the ones that we love. She had a fighting spirit that was balanced beautifully by her tenderness and affection. Granny's message of faith in self extended to personal growth and a continuing desire to learn about the world. I remember her stories of her choir trip to Holland, and the excitement in her voice as she described the country's magnificent churches, windmills, and elaborate flower gardens. I remember the joy she expressed when showing me how something as small and odd as a pomegranate could produce a delicious jar of jelly. And, I remember reading with Granny, especially about the birds of Texas, and watching some of those birds through her binoculars out on the farm. By being around Granny, we could see that life is rich and is to be explored. God has given us a special place.
Granny taught all of us many things about ourselves and about life. I leave you with some lessons that she taught me, which I carry with me every day:
1. The most important things in life are not things.
2. Small things can make a big difference. A tight hug can go a long way.
3. Do your part to make the world a better place.
4. Have pride and be tough. Always stand up for yourself and your family.
5. The sun will always rise tomorrow. God is watching over us.
Granny embodies the best in all of us. I wish we could all be a little more like Granny. But I'm glad to know that a little of Granny lives on in each of us. Granny, we LOVE YOU TIGHT.