Monday, February 17, 2014

In Lieu of Flowers

   This past week found us back in our home state of New York spending time with family and celebrating the memory of my grandpa. My girls needed something appropriate for the services because, while I do not put my kids in black for such things, I do prefer darker colors for tradition. I took the girls to the fabric store to choose their fabric and, well, it was easy to see why their closets are full of brightly-colored, loud prints. I could get them to choose nothing else, so I settled for a dark background color. I used the Geranium Dress pattern, and it was perfect! So many options, measurements laid out clearly so I could make sure the girls had a custom fit and all the girly sparkle their little hearts desired.
    I put off the sewing repeatedly until it was the night before our departure and I had no choice. Remarkably, both dresses were done from start to finish in three hours, and they looked none the worse for the rush. Best of all: the girls loved them, and the morning of the memorial service we were dressing in our hotel room there was not a single whisper of complaint over the color, the shoes, the leggings, the long-sleeved tees underneath to make them winter-worthy in 13F and blowing snow weather, the comfort,
or the fit.
  Though we only moved down south two and a half months ago, it was strange to be back in New York and awesome to see family- some we hadn't seen in years, including my grandma. Such a strong, sweet woman I admire to my very core. She raised six amazing children, was the strong, supportive wife of a hard-working dairy farmer, and my childhood memories are full to the brim of her always helping anyone who needed it, and volunteering in her church, hospital, and community where ever she was needed. Ever since Grandpa became very sick many years ago, she dedicated her life to his care. For nearly twenty years she was a living, breathing example of, "In sickness and in health." Even as her own health issues arose, she thought not of herself, but frustration with her own body that was not allowing her to continue as she always had, and care for Grandpa as she was accustomed. In Grandpa's final days she wrote on her Facebook of being terrified that she wasn't making the right decisions, or that she might later regret something, but also reiterated her faith in God, feeling his peace, and appreciating the encouragement and support of her pastor. The strength and love in her words brought tears to my eyes, and it was pure joy to spend time with her while we were in New York, even when it was just sitting beside her playing with my children as she looked on. Such a strong, faithful, loving, giving woman in every way. Even in her times of great struggle and pain, she always thinks of others. When we arrived home late Sunday night and retrieved our mail from the days we were gone, there was a birthday card for me from Grandma. Even in taking care of last arrangements for Grandpa and packing his things to be given to war veterans, planning the memorial service in New York from her home in Florida, packing and preparing to fly up, not to mention dealing with the grief of saying, "See you later," to her companion of 69 years, Grandma thought of me. Somehow, with all of that going on and sixteen other grandchildren, Grandma remembered me. And even though I'd just returned from his memorial service, had spent time in his former home and seen his empty chair in the living room, seeing just Grandma's name on the card is what really-really made it real to me that Grandpa was gone. I'm taping this card to my refrigerator to help remind me to pray for this amazing woman God blessed me with in my life, and to pray for the courage to always be as strong, selfless, caring, and faithful as the
example she has shown me.

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