March 20, 2008

A Little More About Grandma

I need to tell you a little more about my Grandma's passing. The first thing you should know is that she was the coolest, sweetest Grandma in the world, and it's not just me that thinks so. When I was growing up, and friends would meet Grandma, they'd tell me, "I wish my Grandma was like that." Even her sons-in-law loved and admired her.

Grandma taught me a lot about faith, mostly by example. She had love for the world and for all people, and I could tell that her love was a reflection of her faith. I know that if I had even half as much love as she had, I would be ten times the minister I am today.

For most of the past eight years, I've lived 400 miles away from most of my relatives, including Grandma. I didn't get to see her very often. On several occasions, I did write her letters. I wrote them by hand, with real pen and paper, not via email. I'm told that she appreciated those letters so much that she talked about them for months.

After she was no longer able to live by herself, she moved in with my aunt and her family. This was about two years ago, though I can't remember exactly. After moving down to southern California at the beginning of the year, I was able to visit her more often. I always went with my younger sister, Peggy, on these visits, mainly because she had the "inside scoop" on how to arrange visits with my aunt (who was not only Grandma's primary caregiver, but also the reservation agent for all of us who wanted to come by.) Peggy knew Grandma's routines, which cousins were in town and possibly stopping by for a visit, etc., so I tagged along with her.

At every one of these visits, Grandma would start our visit by looking at Peggy's hand, and commenting, "Peggy, I don't see a ring yet. I can't die until I know you're getting married." And she would end our time together by asking me, "Danny, as a man of God, would you give me your blessing?" I think I may have written before about how I was caught by surprise the first time she asked me. It seemed backwards for her to ask me for my blessing, when her life has been such a big inspiration to me. And besides, she was Catholic, and I was not. Nevertheless, I came up with some sort of blessing, and she thanked me.

Later on, I would use the more traditional blessing from scripture: "May the Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you, the Lord look upon you with kindness and give you peace."

My last visit with Grandma came about because (finally) Peggy did have a ring to show Grandma. She's getting married! Grandma was so happy to see Peggy's ring. At the end of the visit, Grandma asked me for my blessing. I gave the blessing, and then Peggy said to Grandma, "that blessing has to last you another year until my wedding..." I said, "No, that blessing can last forever."

Grandma died peacefully that night.

She was 92 when she died, almost 93. At least 100 people attended the funeral. And towards the end of the service, standing at the graveside, the presiding priest pronounced upon her the same blessing that I had the last time I'd seen her.

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