>This is my Great Grandma Jordan…
Grandma was 99, and passed away a couple weeks ago on December 23rd. I don’t know how you can expect a death and still be shocked by it, but somehow that’s how it happened (for me anyway). Her advanced age obviously clued us in to the fact that her time on Earth wasn’t going to last much longer, yet I think we all hoped that she would be a permanent fixture in our lives.
Her death came the same day we heard the heartbeat of our little Beanie Boo. I had such a rush of conflicting emotions that day! That, and the fast-approaching craziness of Christmas, probably pushed some of the grief to the back burner for a bit to allow me to survive the holidays. For some reason today I seem to be crushed with grief. I’m not sure what brought it on, but perhaps the Christmas fog has finally lifted and allowed me some space for the mourning.
I can’t possibly tell you in one sitting just how special Grandma was to me – to all of us. It would be impossible. Somehow it seems that even if I tried I would never get the right words together anyway. Instead, I wanted to share a memory with you.
A few months before my wedding day, I drove over to Grandma’s to have a little visit. We visited her often in her little house on Gilbert, and enjoyed talking and laughing with her in the decades-old furniture that filled her home. That night it was just me, and I just wanted to drop by to say hello for a bit.
As it tended to at this point in my life, conversation quickly turned to the subject of my wedding. We talked about flowers and food and whatever else people talk about when planning a wedding. It’s been so long for me, I can hardly remember now! During our conversation, she got up from her chair, went into the kitchen and pulled a small box out from the cabinet above her stove. It was just a white cardboard box that had several brown age spots on it. She opened it up and began to share the contents with me.
Inside the box she had kept cards that she and Grandpa had received when they got married, as well as from when they had their only child – my Grandma Marilyn. The cards were tiny, brown and brittle from age. Most of them were no bigger than a standard Post It! Most weren’t even cards at all – simply pieces of notepaper, cut down and folded with short, sincere well-wishes scrawled on them. Some had envelopes, most did not. She pointed out the ones who came from people who had money – they had some foiling and pictures on the cards. Most people couldn’t afford a card with such detail. It was amazing to look at. This small pile of notes from people – most of them gone long ago – wishing Grandma and Grandpa all the best as they started their life together and welcomed a child to the world. Some cards were signed by her parents, by her siblings, and other people she treasured in her life.
Also in the box was a pair of the tiniest, shabbiest little plastic bride and groom I have ever seen. Grandma informed me that these were the tiny dolls that adorned the top of her wedding cake. They had definitely seen better days, but she had kept them all these years. I was immediately silenced by the awe I felt holding those little decorations.
She also had some old candles that had been used on countless birthday cakes throughout the years. Grandma and Grandpa lived through the Depression, so waste was never an option at their house. Instead of using a new candle each time, they reused the same over and over.
I don’t remember exactly what was said that night, but I remember spending a couple hours with Grandma pouring over each item in that box. I remember sharing with her my anxieties and excitement about marrying Matt, and I remember her telling me that everything would be great. That I would make a good wife. That Matt was a good man. And that she couldn’t believe I was old enough to get married – I’d grown up so fast.
We put the items back in the box, and when I thought she would be getting up to put the box away, she turned to me instead and told me to keep it. She wanted me to have these things. These little pieces of her life were being passed to me for safe keeping. I was honored then, and I’m even more honored now.
Suffice it to say that this unassuming box and the scraps of life within it have become one of my most treasured possessions. I went through the box again today, tears pouring from me as I remembered this night with my Grandma. There were so many amazing things about her. She never had much that most people would notice. She lived in a small, modest home for most of her life with the same furniture that was older than I could imagine. She was never adorned with jewels – always wore the same rings and a gold necklace with a small gold heart on it. She was much like that box – sturdy, showing signs of age, but within her lay a lifetime of love and blessings and memories.
I miss her so much today. I regret not getting to see her more in the last years of her life. I will always wish I had not let life get in the way of spending some more time with her recently. I know that I have been blessed in a unique way by getting to have my Great Grandmother into my 30s – that my father and his siblings had their Grandmother until they were close to 60! I praise God for the woman he gave us as a grandmother. She was an amazing example of who we all should strive to be.