I struggle with knowing where to start when thinking about writing memories of my Grandma. I have so many of them as we spent a lot of time with her and at the farm as we were growing up.
In her kitchen I learned how to bake and cook. She taught me how to make cinnamon rolls and she even had little kid sized pans for me to put them in. With her help I won the grand champion purple ribbon at the Kossuth County Fair for my chocolate cake. I thought I was pretty big stuff.
Grandma always had her drawer of fun stuff for us to do when we were there. The drawer right under where the phone always sat was a plethora of jacks and marbles, coloring books and other fun things to look through.
Grandma was always ready to find me props when I played out in the grove of trees. From picnic blankets to fake food and dishes, she was always ready and she always had something that would help me create the perfect "house" in the trees. Grandma was always prepared too, if it was hot outside and we wanted to run through the sprinkler but didn't have swimsuits or extra clothes with, it was no problem for Grandma, she always had something tucked away in one of her many drawers.
I could always count on Grandma to listen to the new song I had learned to play on the piano or learned to sing at school. Even if it was no good she would just tell me "it was different" she never said it was bad even if it was. Some of my best memories of growing up in this church were of Sunday School and VBS. You could always count on Grandma leading the singing with a smile on her face. I thought I was pretty special having my Grandma in charge of the songs and I may or may not have snuck in a request every now and again.
I remember the trip Pete and I took to Okoboji with Grandma and Grandpa, it may have taken a little longer than normal to get there due to Hubby taking a few wrong turns, but we made it and had fun riding on the boat and visiting Arnolds Park and swimming in the pool.
I remember Grandma and Evelyn taking turns hosting Thanksgiving and Christmas and the many memories I have of our Thanksgiving programs and our games of football or chase around the basement. Grandma was a good hostess and always made sure everything was just right, Sarge Marj may have made her appearance more often during hosting duties but that was part of the fun of the holidays.
When Carl started hanging around the family Grandma took it upon herself to cut out every article from the newspaper that mentioned his name(she did this for all of us but added Carl to the list too) When I got engaged she loved to hear about wedding plans and was so excited for the big day. That March before I got married we found out Grandma needed to have bypass surgery. I remember talking to her on the phone and crying with her a little and telling her I loved her. I was able to go to Mason City and see her before her surgery and tell her face to face too. Those were the last moments I had with that version of my Grandma, and I cherish them.
Shortly after she had a brain bleed due to complications from the surgery and a new Grandma emerged. She fought and struggled to relearn everything. I remember staying with her in the hospital those first few nights after the surgery, taking shifts with my Mom and Bone in watching her to be sure she didn't pull our her oxygen or at her bandages. She was always there for us when we were sick and now it was our turn to take care of her. The first time I saw her conscious after her brain surgery we came to the hospital and Grandpa was with her. We came in the room and Grandpa quickly left to get a coffee. I soon realized why, Grandma's speech made no sense. Words came out but nothing was recognizable and her big brown eyes would look quizzically at us with wonder of why we weren't getting what she was saying. It was a long struggle.
A few months later I received a letter in the mail from my Mom. Grandma was learning to write again in her therapy and some of the first letters she wrote on that paper were H-O-L-L-I-E. I remember the tears and the sad and happy feelings all at the same time, as I was so glad she was writing yet so sad she was having to start from scratch.
Grandma eventually regained some of her previous skills but certain things never came back. Though she struggled with her words and memories, sweet, patient, loving Grandma still remained. She made it to my wedding that August and she was just so happy to be there. I remember her excitement as each of our kids arrived. She couldn't remember their names a lot of the time but oh my did she love those little ones.
Throughout my memories of Grandma the constant that remained was her faith in God. She loved God and trusted in his promises through sickness and health and she had her fair share of sickness. It was rare she didn't have a smile on her face and she was always ready with a hug. She was a true example of praising God in the storms of life as well as the joys. We used to sing a song in choir that had these words- may all who come behind us find us faithful, may the fire of our devotion light their way, let the footprints that we leave, lead them to believe and the lives we live inspire them to obey. Well Grandma you are the example of those very lyrics. You inspire me to remember to smile and praise God in all circumstances, because that's what you did. Your love for your family, your serving and giving spirit and your overall spirit of kindness and gentleness is something I will remember the rest of my days. I love you and I miss you more than I could ever put into words. I kind of doubt we get to eat French Fries in heaven but if we do, I know you are there swiping Grandpa's right now.