I've found myself thinking of my great grandma a lot lately... While I was cleaning my room, I came across a letter she had written me years earlier. A warm, fuzzy feeling came over me and I found myself reflecting back on the kind and loving person she was.... and the promise I made her the very last time I saw her.... a promise that would last a lifetime.
Growing up, I was very blessed in the fact that my mom took my brother and me to visit my grandparents / great grandparents pretty much every weekend. Earlier today, I put together a list of some of my favorite memories, and well- sort of turned them into a bit of a poem. (Keep in mind, eh- I'm not a poet, and I know it!) Hehe.
I remember playing "Old Maid,"
as we sat along the river bank.
I remember all the things you made,
the beautiful doilies you always crocheted.
I was so excited when I found
"Fool's Gold" outside on your ground.
We'd play wicker basketball for nickels and dimes,
making memories sure to last our whole lifetimes.
'Tiddly Winks' was always fun,
as was swimming in the warm summer sun.
You always told me I was beautiful,
that I made you proud.
You weren't afraid to say you loved me,
and I often miss having you around.
A few years after my great grandpa passed away, my great grandma moved into a nursing home. I loved exchanging mail with her- handmade postcards, letters... whatever I could think of. And you know, she always wrote back. She always let me know she was thinking of me. Of course, I enjoyed visiting her as well. I remember how her face would light up whenever I entered her room. She was always happy to see me. You could really feel her happiness. I still remember seeing her on my wedding day. She was so beautiful in her pretty purple dress... when I became pregnant with Ashton, she was so excited! On Thanksgiving she got to "feel" him as he kicked around inside me. It was cute how lightly she put her hadn on my stomach. As it neared my due date, my great grandma's health began to diminish rather quickly. I made a few trips to the hospital, wondering if it would be my last time seeing her. Each visit was hard, because I could see the great amount of pain she was in.
My little Ashton James was born on January 16, 2007. At that time, the flu was going around, and was especially affecting the nursing home that my great grandma was at. If I remember correctly, they even closed the doors on most outside visitors for awhile. I wanted to badly for her to experience what it felt like to hold her first great grandchild in her arms. It wasnt until a month later that we were actually able to make that happen.
My great grandma continued to be in a great amount of pain, and was heavily medicated when we came to visit. The medication she was on, often made her confused. I remember hearing her cry out to Jesus- you know, she knew where she was going and she was so ready to meet her loving Savior, her Prince of Peace. I gently placed Ashton in her arms. A short while later, the most amazing thing happened. My great grandma, using every bit of strength she had, stretched her hand out to me, took my hand in hers, and had me promise I would be a good mom.
There arent adequate words to describe how defining that very moment was for me. As Ashton was placed back in my arms, I knew from that moment forward that I would be a promise keeper- perhaps the promise keeper of one of the most valued promises one can have in their lifetime.
Two days later, my great grandma took her last breath and entered the beautiful kingdom of heaven. Her funeral was beautiful and it feels weird saying this, but on that day, I didn't feel overwhelmed by sadness. My great grandma lived a long and beautiful life... and you know, she knew what this life was all about. It's not about financial wealth or materialistic things. It's about relationships, moments spent together, moments spent with God, and the undeniable joy that comes from those things.
I was lying in bed last night, remembering my great grandma, and I began to realize how difficult it is to remember certain things... It can be a paralyzing thought to try and remember exactly what someone's voice sounded like, how their touch felt, or even how they smelled... perhaps those of you who have lost a loved one know that feeling, too. And you know, a strange thing happened- I started comparing my memories to butterflies. I guess, in a way, I was captivated by the beauty within my memories, and at the same time, found myself wishing I had a net to capture all of them in. Sometimes memories can be so fleeting... but when we make time to really remember the essence of someone we love, it's almost like having a butterfly land gently on our shoulder, if even just for a moment.
I often find myself thinking about the promise I made my great grandma. Of course, I hope I'm making good on it. I find great joy in the simple things in life with my family... those things are some of the most beautiful things we've been so richly blessed with in this lifetime= the first snowfall, birds singing happy songs, the powerful rumble of thunder, and the promising sparkle in the stars at night... Iw ill always take time to stop and smell the flowers, and can't deny a good splash in a soggy rain puddle. I am not ashamed to catch snowflakes on my tongue, or dance in the pouring rain. Dandelion bouquets will always be the best bouquets I am given, and when they turn to wishies, I will always wish them all away... I will always see the promise in the colors of a rainbow, and always embrace the warmth of the sun upon my cheek... and whenever I see a butterfly, I will remember what this life is really all about. What the caterpillar sees as the end of the world, the master sees as a butterfly. We all might feel like caterpillars from time to time... off focus with what really matters in this life... but dont ever lose heart. God is working something wonderful in each and everyone of us... and wanna know something great? Someday someone is going to look back on your life, wishing they had a net to capture all of the beautiful memories you gave them. So, friends- what are you waiting for? Get out there and create! Create something beautiful.