Image and FOR-GET-IT game from Amazon.com
On a gorgeous day last summer at The Lake, my daughter, my mom and I, all had the chance to play this game with my grandmother for the first time. It was easy and fun, just like time always was when we were spending it with her.
I realize we are lucky to have had more joyful days together before she passed away in October. Six months later though, on good days and on bad, my heart still aches for my grandmother and for her love.
Of course, her Celebration of Life was pretty and sweet, and the sanctuary was filled with family, and “friends who are family,” that came with the truest of love and stories for her. The song Morning Has Broken was played by friends, and a special young lady with a satin voice performed a solo, which I know she would have enjoyed greatly.
Lots of people gained the courage to speak up in remembrance, including our 12 year old daughter. If only we had those words back! There is nothing, absolutely nothing, more pure and wonderful than the honesty and innocence of a child. I remember what she shared to be both beautiful and funny, and that she spoke her truth with conviction and love for her great-grandmother.
In short, my grandmother meant the world to me, and I will never forget it. She holds a space all her own in my heart, and I want her to have a special place here too. So these are my notes from what I had to share at her memorial service. Now they are backed up to the Internet, so I can remember forever…
“Hello my name is Heidi and I am one of Arlene’s grandchildren. What I wanted to share about is how lovely it has been for my cousins and I, and our children, to love and to be loved by her.
For if you were born into this place in her heart, you are one of the luckiest people in the world. For one, it means you will always have great fun in your life. A wonderful example of this is our annual camping trip to Scout Lake.
For many, many years we didn’t just sleep outside and swim, for us kids, my grandmother’s camping included pancake making contests, air mattress races, an egg toss, scavenger hunts, pie-eating contests, horseshoe tournaments and campfire sing-alongs. She allowed us, and even encouraged us, to bring our friends to this special place, and as a result our family has grown.
If you were born one of Arlene’s grandchildren, or great-grandchildren, you will always have the true gift of family. It was easy growing up when Grandma was in charge. We got together often for Sunday dinners, and games, and every other possible event my grandmother could put together for us. As we’ve gotten older and busier with our own lives, sometimes my Grandma’s expectations for us to be a family have felt more like duty… as in, we should plan a trip to the coast because Grandma really wants to do that, or Grandma really wants us to make wreaths again at Thanksgiving, or play cards after dinner, or one of my personal favorite calls, “Grandma was really hoping you and the kids could make a Bunny Cake for Easter.” And it is true, it takes time to slow down enough to pack for the Coast, to look for dimes so we could play a game of Thirty-One, to get out the picnic basket or the holiday dishes, to take photos, and definitely to make a Bunny Cake, but how lucky we are she gave us this gift of family, because these are some of the best memories of our lives together.
Because of this amazing woman, my cousins and I all know what it feels like to be treasured. One of my loveliest memories of my grandmother goes back to the farm. Although she secretly loved all the kids who came to work at the Farm and their antics, she was the boss and she had a reputation for being strict. It was not the same experience for me. When I was at the strawberry field, I was allowed to pick at my own pace, and she would turn her cheek when I sampled some of the ripest ones for myself (which was highly prohibited!). When I looked the least bit tired, she would scoop me up and put me on the back of the truck. She quickly cleaned a couple of other rows to fill my bucket, and then I would get a donut. It is a gift to feel treasured by someone, and my cousins and our children all have great memories of being loved by her in this way. I don’t think too much damage was done…my cousins have all grown up to be hard workers, and more importantly have big hearts just like Grandma Arlene.
When you live your life in the way that she did… having fun, making time for your family, and treasuring the people you love, I am pretty sure the Lord takes you somewhere very special from here. I remember Grandpa John used to say to her, “Arlene, save the last dance for me.”
I know where she is now, that her dance card is full, and that she saved the best dance for last. If she were here today, I can hear what she would be saying to us… “It’s Friday night, and you kids should all be out dancing.”
One of the best gifts my folks have ever given me, was a labor of love to refinish and recover the wooden desk that was my grandmother’s, which is where I sit to write this blog. When my family is on the computer here, she is with us. We all feel it in the wood, the chair, the air.
It’s interesting to me how things can hold a soul. We have some pieces from a tea set that belonged to my husband’s grandmother. She treasured him, he treasured her, and those cups are much more than a pretty display. In some way, they bring her back to us.
Thanks for taking a walk down memory lane with me. Now it’s time to think about Friday night, and making time to have some fun for our grandparent’s sake! To kick off the day, here is a link to an awesome video tribute to the artist’s grandfather titled The Swing of Things, and the article about the making of it published by NYU Local. I promise it’s going to make you want to put your dance shoes on and hit the Soda Shop.
Image and link to video found here.
Keep Swinging and Sailing,
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