My Grandma went to heaven on Monday. Her passing is so very different from when Grandpa was killed in 2005. She died peacefully and we were prepared. My dad and my aunt were with her, holding her hands. She had lived a long, wonderful life, and, as my dad said, she had "no regrets". I think it's amazing to have no regrets, and I hope that when I am in my nineties I can say that too. When I think about Grandma, I think she had 3 special qualities that enabled her to have such a great life.
She was adventurous, and, I think, brave. She and my Grandpa were world travellers, but they also truly lived all over the world. She grew up in New York City, a little priveleged. (She used to say that during the Great Depression, her father told her mother to start shopping at a cheaper department store. Her mother discovered that she could buy more things for less money, so Grandma got even more clothes!) They lived in Hawaii, England, and Indonesia during Grandpa's military career. To live in Indonesia for 3 years while raising kids is pretty gutsy. Though they loved their routines, I don't think my grandparents hesitated to try a new adventure, whether it be a trip to someplace new, building a mountain cabin, or managing an orange grove.
She was smart. No one in my family was terribly impressed that I got a graduate degree, because 3 out of 4 of my grandparents had one! The way Grandma told it, she got her master's degree while Grandpa was flying planes in the Pacific during WWII, partly because she didn't have anything better to do. That says something about her, that she would choose to go to school during that hard time when he was away. She read voraciously, and loved games and crossword puzzles. She used to say something about not having a decent game of Scrabble without a score of at least 300. I don't think I've ever broken 175. A few months ago, my aunt accused Grandma of not being truthful about her health, and Grandma wouldn't admit to lying, but she did say she might prevaricate a little. If you weren't sure what that word meant either, click it for the definition. She was also smart (and very frugal) with her money. Because of that, she was able to give to others, especially me - providing funds I used to help buy my first car, go to college debt-free, and buy our first home.
She was faithful. Like I said earlier, Grandma liked her routines and rituals. Part of that was her relationship with God, and the time she spent in prayer and bible study. Whenever I spoke with her she told me she was praying for me, and I know she was. She used to speak fondly of her college years because she got to go to chapel every day. (I don't know about you, but when I think of college, even my experience at a Christian college, I don't think of chapel as a huge highlight.) The decades she spent seeking our Father are inspiring to me. She was also a faithful wife to my Grandpa, pleased to be his companion and friend, teasing him, cooking for him, challenging him in card games.
I won't be able to go to the funeral on Friday, being that it's in Florida and we've got a new baby here. I'm sad about that, but I'm going to do my best to honor Grandma by being like her in whatever ways I can, and by teaching my girls to learn from her life: choosing to be adventurous, smart, and faithful.