Saturday, April 30, 2016

Grandma D

Today is the memorial service for someone who had a huge and lasting impact on many lives, mine included. With all that's been going on, the baby and our upcoming move tomorrow, I haven't taken the time to really process, much less talk about, the recent passing of Grandma D. Even now, I sit amid a swirl of packing and boxes and dismantle, but I'm going to take a moment to cuddle my baby and remember one of the greatest women I've ever known, and be grateful to have her legacy to pass on to my children and buoy me up when I need inspiration, golden memories, and love.

Grandma D. Charlotte Davidson. Matriarch. Nurse, wife, mother, grandmother, swim coach, gardener, collector of beautiful antiques, quilter, hostess, chef, comforter, critic, philanthropist, and many more official titles bearing officer and decision-maker throughout her lifetime. She wore so many hats, and made such a lot of difference to so many people, the hole she left is real and painful. Worth it - it is a privelege to have called her "Grandma" and learn life lessons from her and feel her great love - but painful nonetheless. We will miss her more than words can say. And when I remember to, I push aside those selfish feelings and feel grateful that she can be with her sweetheart again, Grandpa having passed away just over a year ago, and that she is no longer suffering. It has been a very tough couple of years for her. But even so, she never forgot a birthday card, never stopped caring for others, always reaching out, living a full life, come what may. 
Personality wise, Grandma was called "strong." That is, she was a mover and shaker, outspoken in her opinions but kind and generous and always the lady. She had a great laugh, used frequently, and often at Grandpa's expense (not really - he encouraged it.) Family was extremely important to her, of highest priority. Summers and holidays at Grandma's house were a treat; loud, busy, crowned with daily feasts, music recitals, and the best conversation. She taught us to swim. She taught us to bake. She always remembered major life events, and less-major ones too, with cards, presents, phone calls...

A few memories from some of your grandchildren:

If she had a choice she always chose to be exactly in the thick of the fun. Or the service project or the fundraiser, or what ever thing she saw was needed. And she saw choices that other people didn't. Like going rollerskating and riding rollercoasters with her grandchildren. For most people, are those activities even a question at that age? For her they were and the answer was yes!
Her formative years (1930s and 40s) aren't known for the mutitude of choices available to women. She made her own choices, and made sure her daughter and granddaughters knew that being a woman has no bearing on what you can do or how far you can go.
From the time I can remember her telling me anything, I remember her telling me that I had a choice. The choice to change a thing, a path, a habit, a wrong. And just a few weeks ago, she told me that sometimes you can't change something so you have to accept it.
Such a force of nature was probably perceived as many different things by many different people. She once told me that some people were just eccentric and some people thought she was eccentric.
She loved her family fiercly and we all knew she was in our corner. More than once I called her to go to bat for me when my parents (at least in my mind) got out of line.
Her voice's cadence while reading the Hobbit aloud to me, the delighted sparkle in her eye when she looked a me, her quick No! when I (rarely) won at cards. They are a part of me, a source of strength and direction and chuckles. Lucky, blessed and privileged that she was my grandma.

Danny and I had been married a little over a year when we took a week long trip out to Iowa so Grandma and Grandpa D could meet our baby, Abby. Grandma D and I spent a lot of time together in her sewing room. She'd quilt while I cut and ironed the pieces. We talked about insecurities I had about fitting in with Danny's family. She told me that Danny had made an excellent choice in marrying me and I was exactly what the family needed. She assured me that while I may not feel like I fit in sometimes that was okay, I fit in to her family perfectly. "Besides", she said," you haven't met all of Danny's family yet. You wait. You'll see how you fit. You are one of us".

My favorite thing to do whenever we visited Grandma and Grandpa's was to sit and look at all of Grandma's figurine collections. I knew I wasn't supposed to play with them, and that was okay; I really just enjoyed sitting and looking at them. I can remember studying the little pewter or porcelain figurines for an hour at a time, and sneaking one or two just to hold for a second before anybody caught me. I started collecting my own mini animals, especially these little plastic, multi-colored horses that I think were from the local dollar store. I loved them so much, I decided to send a couple to Grandma for her birthday. Next time we came for a visit, I went upstairs to look at the special figurine collection, and there were my cheap plastic horses, sitting right up next to the antique, much more beautiful figurines.

Grandma taught me that food is, in fact, love. Of course, she was famous for hosting big delicious meals, and I loved hearing stories from her catering days (holding up traffic to deliver big meringue swans, intact!) but she also knew and took care to make people's favorites. 

A few summers ago we got to spend a few weeks in Red Oak before they moved. She insisted on cooking despite the terrible chronic back pain she faced, standing at the kitchen counter with Grandpa on back massage duty, cutting up vegetables or whatever. When Jon came into town (stopping on his way to UT to woo Mira) we absolutely had to have an apple pie ready because "Jon loves apple pie." Same thing when Brice and Danielle were in town, but I believe his favorite was a frozen Hershey's pie (?). And then, she had a mission to find out the preferences of her great-grandchildren. She'd stocked the pantry with all the "fun" cereal but when she discovered little 1-year-old Joe loved popcorn, guess what she made him for breakfast?? And then pulled him onto her lap to hand-feed him! "They're only little once," she said. It's a memory that always makes me smile. 

Food might have been Grandma's love language. Although she showed her love in many other ways, too, it was always evident in her cooking. I get a little achy inside thinking about all the times we gathered together around her table and enjoyed a meal so lovingly prepared. Each one was a masterpiece - never had a bad meal at Grandma's - and each one was a gift of conversation and laughter too. So many memories I have thanks to meals at Grandma's. That table saw a lot of love.

Gosh, Grandma, we are going to miss you every day. I'm so glad that Riley and Joe got to spend time with you. Your memory is not the kind that will fade. Even as time passes, and our hearts get a little less sore, your example of kindness and strength will always be with us. And every time we see a beautiful antique or have a really good batch of corn on the cob, or a hot dog, or put out seed for the birds or spread a well-crafted quilt on a bed, we will think of you. When we are struggling and in pain, we will remember how you did it, how you got knocked down and bounced back. We love you, Grandma. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016


For a blog that chronically over-shares, it sure is quiet around here. Because I am in the magic rip-van-winkle land of newborns! I will emerge eventually and wonder how Dave's beard grew so long over night. And my newborn will be gone and replaced with a full-blown toddler. I've seen it happen! In just the three days I stayed at the hospital, our other two children got long and lean, speak like teenagers and are just as loud. He's been telling me this for a while, but suddenly, I have to agree that Joe is no longer a baby.

Le sigh.

The point is: please forgive if I'm not prompt calling/texting back, sending thank-yous, getting pictures out, or updating the blog on these major life events. Or maintaining personal hygiene. But we do so appreciate all the love and joy we have felt from everyone this past week. It means a lot when people are concerned for you and commiserate when things don't go your way; I think it means even more when people celebrate with you and your joy is their joy. That said, here is a video I put together so everyone can share a cuddle and a smile with us, and celebrate a special new spirit joining our family. The song is by a band Dave discovered last year that we just love, and this song could not be more perfect. Thank you Ivan and Alyosha for expressing so beautifully the hopes of a new parent for their child.
Every time I look at you I fall in love all over again
And you're the reason I do what I do
I hope someday you can appreciate that
Don't ever lose your innocence
Don't you lose that heart
Don't you lose your confidence
Oh but most of all
Don't lose your love
But I can see the mysteries of God behind your beautiful brown eyes
A wonderful expression of what happens when two people fall in love
Right before our very eyes
Don't you lose your attitude
Don't ever lose that smile
Don't you lose your tenderness
Oh but most of all
Don't lose your love
Well Henry is my baby boy and everyone he meets he gives a wave
And a smile
And somewhere long ago I lost the light that is only found within the heart
Of a child
Don't you lose your humility
No man is bigger than the next
Do what you love and the money will come
Oh but most of all
Don't lose your love
Don't ever lose your sanity
Don't you lose your mind
But I've seen it all and I sure don't know much
Oh but most of all
Don't lose your love
A little more love from today:
Gorgeous Grandma-made baby quilt came in the mail today. Joe still isn't sure it wasn't meant for him.
Sunshine, blue skies. We sat under the cherry tree for a while and it felt so good to sit and listen to bees and lawn mowers.

Good night, Neverland!
May we all sleep like babies tonight. Especially the baby. 🙏