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When we heard about Grandma's passing, a flood of memories likely struck most of us. And, the interesting thing is that many of us will hold on to similar memories – the legacy – that she has left behind...
Grandma held a deep love and source of pride for each grandchild. She knew how to make each one of us feel special, and was always excited to see us. Grandma remembered birthdays with phone calls and carefully chosen cards – and with such a large number of children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and spouses, we can only assume that this was a very deliberate effort that she made. You could just see her spending a half hour reading each card in the aisle before she chose just the right one. Then she made sure you understood the sentiment by underlining – sometimes twice - all the important words in the card. Whether it be sports, music, or ministry, Grandma became an instant fan. Even when she didn’t know the rules of the game, she supported us and loved watching her grandkids in action – especially in her later years. She always thought we were the best, advising Karen and Chris to make ‘records’ after hearing them sing at Mike and Lori’s wedding, and that if they made them she would buy them. And, she was right in there one specific hockey game when Scott and Steven each happened to have gotten into fights – ‘defending’ themselves of course - commending them for sticking up for themselves and not being ‘punching bags’ – making it clear that Grandma had once been into competitive sports herself. Funny that someone who was so kind, caring, gentle and loving could still be proud of her grandsons for such ‘violent behavior’! Grandma always loved to give – and get – hugs from her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. This gave her great joy, and she was always so ‘relieved’ that we weren’t too embarrassed to hug her in front of others. She loved to talk to us on the phone but she always said she did not want to ‘be a bother’ when she called, but we knew that she was just itching to find out how things were going for us. We will miss those calls, those hesitant voice mails, and will keep the memories of these discussions for years to come.
When we would visit them, Grandma and Grandpa would often put out a ‘spread’ for us. In fact, many of the memories that the grandchildren have include some type of favourite food: waffles, porridge, toast, cornflakes, ham and scalloped potatoes, sausage and perogies, pink grapefruit with an ending supply of sugar on them, peppermint cookies, endless bowls of pepper-nuts, Christmas oranges, watermelon and roulkouken, chicken noodle soup with homemade noodles, popcorn, coke and ice-cream “just to fill in the cracks” – these are some of our favourite Grandma memories made around food. And, there was always enough – with a breadbox full of back up supplies for those impromptu visits and trays of candy – rosebuds, smarties, gummies, black licorice candy and more – at every family gathering. And – if you happen to have helped yourself to too much – whenever Grandma received word that someone was under the weather, there was always a bottle of pop waiting – as she believed strongly that it solved all of life’s ailments. And, even when her hands made it difficult to personally prepare the food, Grandma found joy in hosting us at every visit, and we will have many memories of those times together – the questions about our lives and discussions – which never seemed long enough and will be deeply, deeply missed. There was always something to do at Grandma’s and Grandpa’s. Whether it was playing with toys in the basement, biking around and between family farms, discovering what seemed like a never-ending source of interesting items in the storage closet upstairs, climbing the forts and tree-houses on the yard, or catching one of the hundreds of wild cats that lived on the chicken farm, we always looked forward to our adventures – with Grandma looking over us - and there never seemed to be enough time to fit everything in.
Christmas with Grandma and Grandpa provided us with many memories. From the ‘early years’ of meeting in the living room of their home…the memories of walking into the living room as a little kid and seeing the Christmas tree, the presents, the fire place, and the organ, and then packing into the room when it was time to open gifts – the reading of the Christmas story from the Bible by Grandpa and an impromptu drama coordinated by Lori and Dave and the younger grandkids – will always be good memories for us. The hours of activities and games following the gift opening (where we do recall SOME of the Aunts and Uncles being just a little too competitive – Uncle Doug, Aunt Dorothy) – it was an atmosphere we loved so much….and, if those of us who were blessed to have been part of those earlier days close our eyes, we can almost re-live those experiences – the sights, the sounds, the slapping down of Dutch Blitz cards, and grandma always hovering to make sure we were all being taken care of.
And, when the family expanded to the point where we just got too big for their home, we moved the entire crew to the Drake Civic centre, where we enjoyed hours of playing floor hockey, volleyball and – of course – board games (although we think the Aunts and Uncles had mellowed by then, as I do not recall the same fervor from them. Maybe they were just trying to set a good example for us Grandkids in their older age…?!)
Grandma’s home was always open for all the grandkids to stop by, and even bring their friends. And we felt comfortable doing so. Sleepovers upstairs were highlights for many of us. And, when things got busy on the farm, Grandma offered after school care complete with toast and the “Price Is Right” and – sometimes even the “Jefferson’s”. Grandma and Grandpa are the only people I know of who locked their doors at night when they went to sleep, but left the front door open while they were away…. just in case… you never know when the grandkids might need something or stop by… maybe to borrow the old encyclopedias… Grandma loved the spontaneous visits by the grandkids although she always commented “if I would have known you were coming, I would have done my hair”.
We know that Grandma prayed, prayed and prayed some more for each of us. She and Grandpa prayed for jobs and job losses, future spouses, children, health, ministry and protection. Each day at supper-time, Grandma and Grandpa would read the Daily Bread and would pray together with us when we were there visiting, praying for their family and then, once again, praying for each of us before bed. Grandma reminded us regularly that she and Grandpa were praying for us, and this always seemed to give us peace – especially during hard times. Even as Grandma’s health was declining in the past weeks, she still had a deep concern for her family. During a final conversation with Grandma, she said that her prayer was that things would not be too hard for the family and that we would stick together. Two of her deepest loves, faith and family. Even in the hard times, it was core to who she was.
Grandma leaves for each of us an example of a loving spouse. Her deep love for Grandpa was evident throughout her life and something we can all strive to follow. Although sometimes life was hard, she and Grandpa stuck through things together. We know that in our various challenges in lives of their children and grandchildre, they were there to support us and they always wanted to ‘do more’ – and this we will always remember and be thankful for.
We will all have our own specific memories of Grandma. WeI will miss the long chats on the phone and in your home with Grandpa, feeling like we were the centre of your world during the time we had together. We are thankful for the many memories we have of you – and as we look around and see those you have left behind, we see the legacy you have left for us. And that Christ is the centre of this legacy. On behalf of all your grandchildren and great grandchildren, we love you Grandma. Thank you for the person you were, and the memories – and legacy - we will always have. We will all miss you dearly.
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