For My Grandma ...

For my grandma - grace and serendipity

On Friday, November 28th, my grandma went to Heaven to be reunited with my Grandpa.  We all miss her so much already.  You may have noticed that my blog posts haven't been happening for the last week and this was why.  I took a trip up to Minnesota the first week of December to be with my family and celebrate her life, and I am so glad that we did.  She was an amazing woman, and someone I want my kids to remember fondly.  I was lucky enough to be able to speak at her funeral, and below is a compilation of memories my family and I all wanted to share with people who came to join us on the day of her funeral.  We love you Grandma, and are happy you are rejoined with your Soulmate again!

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My grandma is one of those people that you consider yourself lucky if you get to have be a part of your life. Kindness, compassion, and a life filled with love and laughter were just a few of the many qualities she possessed. There are so many memories that I have filled with those emotions, that although it's incredibly easy to be overcome with sadness that she is no longer with us here on Earth, it is also incredibly easy to also be happy when thinking of her, from simply remembering memories that we all made, and wondering what kind of fun she is having in Heaven now that she is with Grandpa again.  When she would laugh, it would never be the calm, peaceful laugh that some people have, but rather one that filled the room - many times included her throwing her head back, mouth wide open, slapping her hand on her knee, and having a good solid chuckle. If she had an idea about something, she was always determined that it was one of her best ideas yet.  For my dad Steve, whenever she told him that she had one of these scathingly brilliant ideas, he learned to just reach for his wallet and throw it on the floor, as often times money was involved in some way.  You learned just to go along with it as once she made up her mind, she was determined to make it happen in one way or another.

Grandma had a special zest for life that is contagious. Even for the little things she loved, like guessing the Wheel of Fortune puzzle before the contestants or guessing close to the price of the showcase when the Price is Right was on.  she would clap her hands just once, give a shout, and dance in her chair.  If you were sitting close enough to her when this happened, she would grab your knee and give it a squeeze, to entice you to get excited too.  She encouraged you to think fast and smartly, especially during a game of Tripoly.  And on a side note - have you ever seen so many pennies in Mason jars as when she would pull them out for you to play with? I asked her once why she had so many, and it was all because she wanted the game to go as long as possible, and because she loved the happiness it created along with the family bonding that would automatically take place.

The years that they lived on Eagle Lake in Minnesota is where my brother and I have the most memories together.  He and I loved fishing down on the dock at their lake house, and we each had a tiny snoopy fishing pole that we would use every time. She taught us that the easiest way to remove a slimy bullhead catfish from your hook was to step on his head, grab the hook, and just yank, that using canned corn as bait would get you bigger sunfish than any wiggly worm ever would, and the best part about fishing wasn't actually catching the fish - it was the peace and quiet, watching the water and just sitting, which is something that I think applies to so much more than just fishing - with as busy as the world is, finding peaceful moments to enjoy, filling your life with moments with matter, even if it's just to sit and relax every now and then.

Although my cooking skills are still lacking, every time I step foot into the kitchen, if I get lucky enough for something to not only turn out, but also be something that my husband and teenage stepson want seconds of,I always find myself thinking"grandma would be proud". Because we all know how fabulous of a cook she was from all of the parties and get-togethers that she and Grandpa hosted over the years. Somehow she always managed for everything to turn out perfectly as well - and never seemed stressed about it either.  She would even make a triple batch of deviled eggs, because she knew my dad and I would eat at least half of them on our own, no matter how many she made. And she never complained about it - rather always cooked with a contentness that I hope to someday share as well.  However, this may also be because she didn’t ever clean up - it was either my mom and Sharon’s responsibility, or whoever the lucky two people were that received a raisin that had been strategically placed inside of the rice pudding that she had cooked.  This may also be why Anna first called her "Grandma Eat" instead of simply grandma, because she was always trying to get her family to eat whatever it may be that she had marvelously cooked that day.

Grandma always stressed the importance of family and spending time with the ones you love, whether they were family or friends that may as well have been called family .  Getting together for holidays, weekend trips, and as many vacations together as possible were what mattered to her and Grandpa, which is honestly what matters most in life.  My brother and I were lucky enough to get to travel with both of them often, and the motor home trips were my favorite.  She would encourage us to play together all the time - and even wanted us to be mischievous and see if grandpa would catch on the latest plan that we had come up with together.  On a trip to South Dakota, she supplied huge pieces of paper for my brother and I to write "honk" on in large letters and go hold upon the back window, until one truck got too close trying to read the sign, to which she quickly suggested a change of plans.   One time, when my brother and I weren't quite seeing eye to eye, Grandma sat us down and said very seriously and sternly that it was important to love each other because we were family. It was that simple. And she and grandpa were a perfect example of that.  She and Grandpa had the kind of love that is that once in a lifetime love. They spent so many years together, creating a marriage filled with adventure, love, and always keeping each other's feelings at the forefront - making it work while showing all of us what true love looks like, acts like, and what our own life should encompass with the people we choose to love.  If you loved someone, she immediately did too. She welcomed you with open arms, made you feel loved and right at home whenever you were around her.

When my parents told her that she was going to become a grandma for the first time by hanging a "hi grandma" sign the bathroom door and she came out with no words, but just tears streaming down her face, or when Sharon told her about her adoption plans for Anna, explaining the process, with grandmas first words being "when will we get her", it showed this love of hers for family and how she wanted hers to grow in whatever ways her daughters wanted it to.  The first time I told her about my husband, or any boy for that matter, the first question was always the same - "is he a nice boy"? When I replied about my husband with an emphatic yes, and also let her know that it would make me an instant mom as my husband had a little boy that I would become a stepmom to, she told me I was the luckiest girl in the world because being a mom to her girls was her favorite thing in life. It definitely applied to her grand kids and great grand kids as well - be it waiting in the chair in the foyer with Gadget at her feet for Anna and Emily after school to hear about their day, talking to me on the phone and asking me what my kids were up to, she was always genuinely interested. I will truly miss our conversations, her laughter, her ideas, I will miss everything about her.

She was always supportive of any dreams, ideas, or thoughts that any of us had. Whether it was Sharon deciding to make the move to Texas, my parents deciding to move to northern Wisconsin and live in the tiny one room "love shack"  while they built their dream house, Kyle moving to Colorado, or me moving to Florida, she never once told any of us that our ideas were silly or not to do them. She would always encourage us to create the life we saw for ourselves, as long as we included her in it and shared our developments with her as our dreams have turned into realities over the years.  She taught me to be a strong woman, to stand up for what I believe in, and to stand up for the little guy if there was a bully who wasn't doing the right thing.

Today, my heart is filled with so much happiness and love, because I know that so many of you here today are people my grandma called family. I grew up hearing about all of you, and I remember so many moments in your own lives.  And the best part about it is that now that she is in heaven reunited with Grandpa again, it'll be easy to have her with us wherever we are. The memories we have of her are all our own, but that's what makes it easy to remember her fondly and smile. Whether it is seeing a tree stump that remind you of the day she mistook a bunch of them for turkeys, the way that she would say "oopy" or "oh sure" in her own way, the way that she always said hello with a hug and a smile, or when she would dance to her own beat, whatever happy memories you have of my grandma, I hope they continue to make you smile through the days, months, and times ahead. To feel peace. Peace doesn't mean to be in a place where there is no noise or sadness. It means to be in the middle of those things and still be calm in your heart.

Rest in Peace, Grandma.  We will always love and miss you.

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Above is a photo of my grandparents on their wedding day ... they were married for 49 years before my Grandpa went to Heaven.  They were the definition of soulmates, had an amazing relationship, and the perfect set of Grandparents for us all to have.

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