last thursday, my grandma ruthie passed away.
the last time i saw her, she told me about 20 times that she wanted to die – because she really couldn’t remember that she’d already told me that 19 times, and because she was so tired, and because she missed her late husband, and because she had absolutely no fear of death and no doubt that not only a reunion with grandpa dean but many other glories awaited her.
we knew she was close to leaving this earth for quite a while. in her last months, her sweet face wore an expression that looked as if she was pleading to go. it has been 53 years since she’s been with her beloved husband. she felt her mortality was finished and she was ready to move on. we all knew that when she did, it would be a blessing, an alleviation, an exaltation.
and so, when i got the news last week, the depth of the instantaneous grief i felt quite surprised me. i sat at my desk at work and just cried and cried. i felt red-hot longing for my grandmother, for her satiny hands and honeyed voice and for her love, which strength and verity, despite being quite lost in a sea of her posterity, i never ever doubted. and i felt this huge emptiness realizing that i had no more grandparents – that generation is gone from mortality. my children will never physically know the strong four grandparental roots that make me me, and by extension that make them them. after processing this sorrow, a new feeling came to my heart and has stayed with me long and clear – a feeling of intense gratitude for those roots, for my grandma’s legacy, for her blood running through my veins.
it is grandma’s genes that made me a dancer. she was a spectacular one years ago, and i’ll always be grateful that love of movement made its way down through bloodlines to me. it was dancing that brought grandma and grandpa together. a few years ago i helped my dad transcribe grandma ruthie’s journal and i realized what a romantic she was. she fell hard and deep for dean eyre, and loved him fiercely. she lost him to cancer after five children and a few years shy of a twentieth anniversary. she used tremendous faith and hard work to raise the children without him and to serve others in so many ways (she created joy school, organized volunteers at the hospital, and served years in the temple). she always spoke of grandpa dean with such incredible devotion and tenderness in her eyes. yes, it is also grandma’s genes that made me a lover.
a few years ago, my brothers and i spent an evening in logan with grandma. we took her to dinner and then sat in her living room talking. eli found the old record player and figured out how to get it to work, and put on some big band music. i will never ever forget how grandma tilted her head back, closed her eyes and with the sweetest look laced with such such deep love on her tranquil face said, “i used to dance with dean to this song. when i close my eyes i can almost feel his arms around me leading me through the steps.”
today they are dancing together again.
and i am missing grandma ruthie, wishing i could hug her one more time and look her straight in the eyes and tell her how incredibly grateful i am for her legacy.
some quick memories i’ve been thinking about:
-we always drank powdered milk at grandma’s. i always hated it – ick!
-grandma taught me how to properly wring out a wash cloth, and always had something to say about the cleanliness of my bedroom when she came to visit!
-i loved playing the games in the cabinet in the basement and swiveling in the chair at the organ at grandma’s house.
-one night when grandma was sleeping over, i saw her without her wig and i was terrified, thinking there was a stranger in the house!
-i visited grandma in logan with a dear friend right before my mission. we went to the temple together and had a lovely sleepover.
-i loved visiting the original joy school in logan with grandma, feeling so special that i was hers.
-i remember always feeling so incredibly safe and warm and loved at grandma’s house.
-a million trillion hugs and “i love you”s.
i am headed to utah this weekend to celebrate the life of this extraordinary woman i am so so so so blessed to always have as my grandmother.