Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Remembering Grandma Betty

Grandma Betty was my husband’s grandmother. But from the first time I met her, I felt she was my grandma, too. Yes, I was the grand-daughter-in-law, but that didn’t matter. In fact, Grandma Betty was everyone’s grandma. I bet if you had met her, you’d be calling her “Grandma,” too.

It was more than the snowy white hair and Dove-soft skin. It was a special grandmotherly aura, and I was spellbound by it.

How did she do it? After much consideration, a few things came to mind.

Liberal use of comfort food.

When we were going through pictures to show at her memorial service, it was no surprise that most of the pictures we found of Grandma Betty were taken in the kitchen. Dressing turkeys, sampling soups, and best of all: baking pies. She was never more at home than when she was in an apron. Cooking wasn’t work to Grandma. It was her excuse to gather friends and family around the table for lively conversation and laughter.

She was of that golden generation of true “home”-makers, and to her, cooking was love.

Judicious use of the word “My.”

Grandma had a way of making people feel that somehow they “belonged” to her. She was an awesome hugger, good and tight. She was a good listener.

But mostly, I like to think it was because she felt that calling you by your own name was simply not enough. She had this habit of putting the word “my” in front of it. She was also fond of the word “precious.” I would walk into the room, she would pat my hand and say, “How’s MY PRECIOUS Kathy today (she never “got it” that I go by Katherine)?” The next thing I knew I’d be telling her my most intimate secrets, fears and prayers.

And it was safe, because I belonged to her.

Focus on simple truth.

Grandma Betty lived a simple life. She was the daughter of immigrants and then the wife of a blue collar man for almost 50 years. When asked to describe herself, she was apt to say, “I don’t need much!” or “I’m just plain vanilla.” Found among her few earthly treasures were small things like napkins from special parties, mementoes from camping vacations, and pictures of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, all neatly placed in boxes and albums. Not much, really.

Also among her humble belongings was her Bible, the one she sat reading for hours at a time. Although she wasn’t one to argue the finer points of theology, she loved its message of grace and truth that had changed her life as a headstrong young mom, the first one in her family of gypsies and mystics to make a decision for Christ.

She talked about God in simple terms, as easily as she talked about the weather, as she went about her daily business, giving hugs, baking, crocheting.

I think that’s why everyone loved her. Thinking back, I rarely heard her quote scripture. She didn’t have to.

She lived it.

I’m going to miss Grandma Betty, her hugs and her cooking. I’m going to miss hearing her stories of life “back then.” I’m going to miss her asking about “her precious grandbabies.”

But now that she’s gone, my prayer is that, like her, I can learn to look for the preciousness in others, maybe even cook for them, and live my faith in a simple way that shows them that God is close.

I love you, my precious Grandma Betty. And I will see you on the other side.

Grandparents, Tribute, Family


Susie said...

I loved reading this post of your beloved Grandma Betty. She sounds like she was the kind of Grammy I strive to be.
I'm so sorry for your loss. May she rest in peace.
I'll be back to visit you when I have a bit more time....

Karla said...

What a beautiful tribute. What a blessing for you to have had her in your life. If only we were all so lucky.

Gabriela said...

What a sweet lady (and post). I wish I had a Grandma Betty!

Thanks for visiting my blog. I hope on day my kids have fond memories of Mexico. We actually are moving to Mexico City in a couple of months, so stay tuned!

Grammy said...

That was so lovely to read. I feel like I almost knew her. I pray that some day someone can say as sweet things about me. I pray that you will find comfort in these precious memories.

the lizness said...

That was so comforting to read. Found you through Code Yellow Mom

Code Yellow Mom said...

Oh...this was so good. I love Grandma Betty and feel like I belong to her now, too. :) It's hard to be without people like this in our life, but how wonderful that we could be with them for a while, and with them again sometime...

Hope it wasn't too presumtious to put you on my blog roll without asking. I've just gotten so much out of yours lately...