My Grandmother passed away Tuesday morning.
That is one of the most painful sentences I’ve ever composed.
In reality, I never called her “my grandmother.” That is far too stiff and formal. It was always Grandma, Gram, or most often, Maw Maw- which incidentally, were her initials: M-A-W, Mary Alice White.
I don’t even know where to start. I can’t even begin to express the richness of knowing her and being loved by my Maw Maw Mary. My earliest memories are of her, my fondest memories are of her. The smell of cinnamon Trident or Dentine gum, her Clinique compact powder and lipstick, and the way the Kleenex in her purse always held on to those scents…
She was always there, no matter where there was, even when it meant hours of drive time, taking off work, etc. She was there for everything; Grandparents Day in kindergarten, summer basketball camps, track meets, concerts, musicals, plays, proms. Not just the ordinary everyday stuff either. She had a way of making the holidays memorable. It wasn’t the holiday itself, but her presence and hospitality – time spent in the kitchen preparing food, thoughtful gifts, decorations, lights, stories and laughter, all of it was magical and special because she made it that way.
Her house was my second home; the only place that remained constant when my immediate family was in turmoil. It was always clean, and always tidy- she made sure of it with a pick-up and a wipe-n-swipe. There was peace and rest with her. When I was sick from stress, she was right there with me, with a cool wash rag for my forehead, and some Sprite or 7up to settle my tummy.
Her home was always fully equipped for whatever idea or imagining I might have pursued. There were always movies, or toys and games,- many having been my aunt’s and uncle’s – always paper and crayons, jars for catching lightning bugs, basketballs for shooting hoops with Grandpa. Snacks! Maw Maw always had good snacks. Nail polish for cutesy toes. Plenty of rocks to paint with Grandpa’s model paints. Mexican blankets for pallets in the living room floor. Music, either recorded or sung. She always liked when I would sing with her. “Sing me a song, Eedie-peedie.”
She was always there emotionally. Nothing was more important to her than family. Maw maw made it easy to share a broken heart, and she could provide comfort when situations were at their darkest. She never criticized, always loved, always encouraged, and always pointed us toward Jesus- through Sunday worship, vacation Bible school, singing hymns and rhymes while I sat on her lap. “Jesus Loves Me,” “I’m a little acorn round, lying on the ground, ground, ground…” or “I love you a bushel and a peck, a bushel and a peck, and a hug around the neck.”
She taught me how to crochet, how to do my hair and nails, and reminded me I didn’t NEED make-up to be pretty, but that how I presented myself was important…and a little bit of lipstick always helps 😉 not to mention clean, new shoes.
She always made sure that I knew I could be whatever I wanted to be; basketball star, track star, movie star, Broadway star- she encouraged me to shine in whatever I pursued, and many times, paid my way there.
What I didn’t realize then, but am painfully aware of now is that I didn’t actually want to be any of those things. I want to be like her.
I want to be a bright and vibrant spirit who surrounds herself with genuine friends, whom everyone knows and thinks well of.
I want to be a devoted wife and mother, who puts the needs of her family and household above anything outside, and manages it all with ease. I want to be my husband’s biggest cheerleader, and my children’s fiercest advocate and best friend.
I want to be a soft place for family and friends to land, and a warm hug and smiling face to come home to.
I want to give more than I ever take, and to live generously, always having extra for anyone who needs it. I want to be a shepherd for the lost and wandering, who takes in the strays and offers them friendship and familiarity. I want to be a gracious host, who abhors the thought of anyone having an empty stomach, or parched mouth. I want to walk in confidence and be “put together” because of the truth of my Savior, even when I feel dark, depressed, or insecure. I want my family to know without a shadow of a doubt that I love them unconditionally, always and forever, and that they can come to me for anything and everything.
My Maw Maw was not the perfect woman. But she was exemplary in home and family life. And I will miss her tremendously for the rest of my life. Until I get to Heaven, I’ve got my purse, my keys, and my phone, and I love ya, see ya, bye, Maw Maw.