I know that Alzheimers has taken most of you away from us at this point in life, but if you were able to understand what all I could tell you tomorrow on your 90th birthday, this is what I would say...
You are beautiful. Dad just recently showed me some pictures of you when you were younger and I just sat there reflecting on how beautiful of a woman you were.
I had a check in my spirit when I thought the word "were" and pulled up a photo I took with you a few years back and remembered that even at close to 90, you were certainly still beautiful.
Your skin may be stretched and your teeth may be taken out and your hair may or may not be fancy the day I see you in the nursing home, but you, Grandma, are still so very, very beautiful at 90 years old. Don't let anyone tell you different.
|Grandma with Lily|
|Grandma with Lily & Toby|
You are included in so many of my favorite childhood memories. Grandma, when I think back on my childhood, I can not think too far without you being involved. Whether it was painting my nails with the nail polish you kept in the refrigerator, singing to the old radio in the basement while playing pool, listening to the TODAY show on the little black and white television in the kitchen while you sliced up my peanut butter and honey toast for breakfast, or wrapping the countless strands of my hair around curlers for my perm...you were involved in my life and I'm so grateful. Elaborate birthday cakes, Christmas stockings hung over your fireplace, Easter eggs hidden in the basement, pushes on the swing in the backyard, cutting peonies for the table vase, cutting of aloe plants in the kitchen widow sill for my hurt knees, jars for lightening bugs, slices of bread for my baby doll in the high chair, yearly adventures at the county fair, trips for Kewpee hamburgers or the ice cream joint down the road, and special vacations during our week long stays at your home. Goodness, Grandma, where would I stop with all the childhood memories you were involved in? Thank you for being a Grandma who showed me you loved me by being involved in my life.
I'm also grateful for you being present not only when I was at your house, but for events I was involved in that you had to travel to be a part of. School programs, church programs, choir concerts, plays, volleyball games, graduations, and even the occasional week long stay at our house so the folks could go away on a business trip or vacation. On top of that there were so many cards and gifts given at birthday time, letters written to say congrats or we're thinking of you...you were always present even when you couldn't be. You weren't just my grandma on your turf--you cared enough to come to my turf too. I'm so blessed to see your face in countless photos in my albums.
I love that you loved to sing. You were always singing, Grandma. Singing in the kitchen, singing in the choir at church, singing in the snow bird trailer park, singing in the car, singing in the audience. Heck, even when we didn't want you to be singing you were still singing. Even in these later years when Alzheimers has taken so much from you, you can still be heard occasionally humming a little ditty from your bedroom or wheelchair in the hallway. I believe that much of our joy, sorrow, pain, and celebration in life can be given a strong voice through song. I'm so glad you revolved your life around it and inadvertently taught those around you...even your young granddaughter...to find a love for music and song. Keep singing, Grandma, even if it's just in your own head at this point. Just keep singing. You will add to the beautiful harmonies of Heaven some day.
|Grandma singing to Sydney and Quinn|
I love that you loved Grandpa in your sassy, fun, day-in and day-out kind of way. I watched you care for his every need over the years. Yep, it never went unnoticed. Making sure he was getting his walk in, eating his sugar-free candy, getting a "proper" sized slice of angel food cake, placing his plate, fork, knife, spoon, and glass on the table three times a day for the entirety of your marriage until death did you part. I loved how you two were involved in activities together such as the Lions Club and the art classes in Arizona. Oh, and how can anyone who knew you deny that together you played a mean game of pool? Thank you for winking at each other over jokes us youngsters were too naive to understand, for holding hands on walks, and for getting that last slow dance in at my wedding because it was important to you even though the snow storm was coming in heavy. Mostly, thank you for loving each other through the thick and thin, sickness and health, so that I could cherish that example of true marital commitment. I know losing Grandpa had to have been the hardest thing in your life. I miss him too and hope that your reunion with him in the heavenlies, whenever that happens, will be one of bliss.
|Jessie and Richard on their wedding day|
Honestly, Grandma, even though you are still alive at 90 years old, I wish you were alive in such a way that I could sit in your presence tomorrow and connect on a deeper level than eye contact. I wish I could hear you sing "Happy Birthday to me" with all of us as we gather around you. I wish I could see you smile and laugh as your great-grandkids gather around you and give you their homemade pictures for the walls of your room. I wish I could hear what all you want us to know about life and love and happiness. I wish you could know those around you, eating cake and wishing your 90th year of life in this land love you so, so much. Despite your inability to say thanks or even acknowledge us at all, I truly hope, deep down inside, you will be touched by our desire to still show you we love you and are thinking of you on this day of celebration. There is much we grieve on this day because of the losses this disease has taken from you, and therefore us, but there is also so much to reflect on and celebrate about the woman you were, the woman you are, and the woman you have helped me to become.
For that, Grandma, I am grateful we get to be with you on your birthday. I wish I could come and visit you more often, but just know my heart and thoughts are not far from you even though distance is. 90 years, Grandma. Can you even believe it!?! That's a lot of years, lady! A lot of years full of memories, smiles, hugs, and the warmth of the person God created you to be. You, Grandma, are a blessing and I love you.
Happy sweet, beautiful, lovely, and sassy 90th.