Thursday, January 19, 2012

Grandma Ginny

It's been three years since our family lost it's center.  And we continue to regroup, reorganize and figure things out.  Holidays are just a little off, plans are not the same and certainly we are all dying for some of her cooking.  But today I'm thinking about my Grandma and everything she contributed to the woman I am.

My Grandma thought that it was her mission to create lasting memories for her grandchildren.  She wasn't ever quite sure what method was going to make the most impact.  She did big holiday celebrations, took us on vacations and bought us little knick-knacks that she thought would remind us of big moments in our life.  She saved the best meals for Christmas and wrote letters with beautiful penminship, she came for visits and taught us how do craft, sew, garden and cook.  She wasn't sure what was going to resinate and make the memory, or leave her mark.  

She lived hard and full.  She was a mother, a grandmother, a wife, a business woman, a community organizer, a care-giver, a cook, and these were just the uniforms she wore and name tags she exchanged.  She was real, she knew that at the end of the day a warm meal a hug and a dose of southern hospitality went further than anything else you could ask for.

At her funeral my natural coping mechanism was to write.  I wrote this and read it at her funeral, with Betsy, Jordan, Alex and Seth by my side....

I would like to tell you some things about our Grandma.
Grandma would have been 71 this year.  I’m not really sure if that is young or old but what I do know is that age did not apply to her.  Last year she couldn’t believe that she was turning 70 because she felt 40!  This was obvious by how many things Grandma did.  I bet if we went around the room tonight we would be amazed at how many different places Ginny crossed our paths through the jobs, hobbies, and things that Grandma did in town. Honestly, I’m not really sure if the woman ever slept.  I bet though that if we got to talking it would be clear that everything she did, she did to make everyone happy.  Whether she was making you a meal (I’m not sure if you know by Grandma is a little bit of a cook!!!) serving you a cup of coffee, or having her grand-kids over for a weekend of junk-food and movies.  She worked selflessly to make other people happy.   (MEDICAL CARE QUOTE)
Grandma had a way of making everything she planned special.  If she was coming over for a birthday or having Christmas at her house, she opened the door with the biggest smile and glow in her eyes, “Hi Guys” or “knock knock!” She made everyone feel at home. And on Christmas she put on a feast and you would swear that she had a factory of elves working in her basement.  She wanted everyone to have the best time.
One of the best memories about Grandma is not one that she planned.  It was after the meal, after the cake, usually over a glass of wine.  It was sitting around the table listening to Aunt Dee Dee and my Mom go back and forth with some “pre-Michigan adventure.”  They would just be gabbing away and you could look down at Grandma and she would be laughing so hard with her hand over her mouth and her eyes tearing-up.  Her laugh was the best, you could tell she was really relaxed at that time. 
The pride of Grandma’s life was her family.  It was so clear how much joy she got from watching us all grow-up.  There wasn’t a week that went by that we didn’t talk to Grandma.  Since we were little she was always making plans for us.  We would go on vacations together all 6-10 of us depending on the year.  We went to Chicago, Mackinac, and Louisiana.  You would think that for a woman who had four jobs at any given time she would want to get away and rest for a week, but oh no! We were movin’!  She would make arrangements and time schedules weeks in advance.  She knew what restaurants we would eat at what places we’d see and she told you how much fun you were going to have! “You can rest when you’re home, vacation is to see things!”  When we were home she made sure we were always connected to one another.  She sent Betsy news articles about Jordan’s football teams; she went on and on about to us about how cute Erin and Paige were when they played dress-up with her.  She would encourage me to call Seth with any kind of problem and LOVED to hear when we would hang out together.  Alex was her little helper, he got to hear stories about the rest of us while helping Grandma hang lights, sort pictures, clean the garage and water her garden.  Between Grandma and our Mom’s they have created an amazing and unique family bond full of memories, jokes, stories and life lessons.  Through her actions I’ve learned from my Grandma to 1. Never come to the party empty handed, 2. Be confident and work hard 3. Make memories 4. Work to make others happy.
Last Christmas I asked her to start a journal to tell us her stories.  Of course she did.  In the journal she said “I’ve always been bull-headed, independent, and determined – Now I know that is sweet and sour, good-bad, a two sided trail.”  She blamed her dad for hat but these are traits that made her the woman that we are all her to bless tonight.
Our Grandma is beautiful, she is strong, she is so smart and we are so proud to be hers.  Right now things are very hard we are all so sad, confused, and angry, we are a little lost.  But we need to remember that Grandma was very deep in her faith.  Betsy said that Grandma told her on many occasions “everything will always work out for those who love the Lord” When we called Grandma with whatever issue we had she relied on the faith that “things will work out because God has a plan for you.”  Well Grandma you are sitting next to Him now please keep us strong in the faith and the path that you have laid for us.  Grandma thank you so much for everything, for giving of yourself to your family.  Thank you for the memories and stories.  Thank you.

So three years later Grandma, where do these memories live?  They live in every one of your Grandchildren.  Every crazy adventure (setting hotels on fire, missing flights, melted desserts, southern plantations, home-cooked meal) is sitting in the heart of your grandkids. 

Betsy and Seth can cook, and they love it! 
Betsy and I create, we even did a craft show!
Seth is your business man like you knew he would be, always trying for the next step up.
Betsy is sweet as sugar just like you knew she would be, Seth is serious, Alex a total goof, Jordan the strength.
Jordan has your faith and ability to see family as the center of it all and remind us that home is where the heart is.
Alex has your spirit, without a doubt your energy.  He's going to decorate the world and be as hospitable as you.
As for me, I pack as much in a day as physically possible, I never shy away from a challenge, I know who I am but I'm never sure I'm making the right decision.  I care for people and I try to do the most for people with what I have.

Every knick-knack, every trip, every conversation sits with us.  
Thanks for making a beautiful family Grandma.


  1. Absolutely beautiful, Kaleena.

  2. As always, you write a wonderful, colorful message. Thank you for sharing these wonderful memories.
    There is not a day that goes by that I don't talk to my mom, or have a memory moment of times we shared. I love that she lives in all of us!!

  3. Yes your Grandma did make a beautiful family.
    So I guess you could say you all took something from that dinner table with you.
    You amaze me Kaleena.
    Your Grandmother is very proud of you!!!
    I think of you always.
    Love Christi.




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