Below is a picture that Nathan took for his graduation portfolio when we were in college. To me, it beautifully captures her beauty & delicateness right along with her fiestiness and strong will.I wanted to tell you a little about our "Gran" and the lessons I learned from her.
1. To Stand By Your Man
Gran was such a unique lady. Having lost her husband relatively early in her life, she lived most of her life alone. She lived in a little house that had been her husband's dream; a hands-on, fixer-upper on 4 acres. Unfortunately, he passed away long before he realized his dream of seeing that house in all it's glory. Gran talked as if she hated "that old house", but when you really listened, you could hear exactly how much she loved it. No, she didn't like that the porch wasn't screened in or that the front bathroom was never finished. What you could hear in her words and stories, if you listened, was how much she loved feeling close to her husband there. She was a good wife. She was supportive of his dream, even when she hated the thought of it (not that she was always quiet about her dislike of it) and she stayed loyal to that dream for some 26 years after he had left this earth.
2. Not to OVERVALUE my own opinions.
She was quiet and didn't want to make much of a fuss, even when she was in pain or uncomfortable. However, don't assume her quiet nature meant she didn't have strong opinions of her own. She was strong; stronger than she looked with her little 5 ft-something, thin frame and her pretty white hair. From the stories she and Nathan's parents have shared with me, her childhood was hard. It is part of what made her so strong, I imagine. Still, she just didn't feel the need to chime in on every issue that came up around her. This is a lesson MANY in this world could stand to learn (myself included). If you ASKED her opinion though, you were sure to get an ear-full. Even if she disagreed with you though, she never did it in an ugly way. You never walked away feeling like she had held it against you or that she had condemned you. This brings me to the most important lesson that I have learned from Gran.
3. To Leave A Legacy of Love.
During the lovely service on Saturday and throughout the week, the number one thing that I heard from the mouths of her friends and family was, "She just loved you all so much!” It was so nice to hear and I am glad that they said it, but not a single one of us needed to hear it. We knew it. We never doubted it. We could tell how much she loved us in the way she treated us; the way she spoke and acted. I never felt judged by her for my not-so-always clean home or for my sometimes (wink-wink)-not-so-perfectly behaved children. She always had a smile for any one of us and she always was ready to give a hug. I know that being here with all five of my bounding babes couldn't have been easy for her at her age, but I can't tell you the number of videos or sweet pictures we have of her right in the middle of them, coloring or acting out a puppet show. My favorite ones are from just this past January. They are of her here at the table, coloring with Cooper, wearing a homemade crown with her white hair bunching out all around. The smiles on her face and Cooper’s in those pictures are just priceless. My children, at their young ages, may not be able to understand completely what has happened to them this week. I have no doubt in my mind, not a single one, that they knew how much their Gran- Gran loved them purely, simply, and completely.
The way she looked at Nathan was another way I knew her heart. He (and his brother) were still her babies even now in their thirties. They did no wrong in her eyes and she just loved them to pieces. I truly imagine that the look I saw on her face when she looked at Nathan this last visit before she passed was the same expression that she must have had on the first day she met him in 1973. Nathan, or his brother, never had to wonder whether they were good enough or whether they deserved her pride or love. They got it by default. The got it purely, simply, and completely because they were her precious Grandsons, gifted to HER by a sovereign Lord. That was the only reason she needed and she seized it.
That is the legacy I want my kids to take with them from my life; pure, simple, and complete LOVE.
We love and will miss Gran. This weekend, Easter Sunday, Graycen is being baptized. She wanted everyone to be there so badly that she has waited for nearly a year for a weekend that everyone could travel up. Now, her sweet Gran-Gran won't be sitting in the pew to see this wonderful event in her life, but what a JOY it brings my heart to know that she is in Heaven and that she will one day be there to welcome all of us. That knowledge brings me so much comfort in the times through this week when my heart is heavy.
Gone from this earth, but never to be forgotten by any one of us …