When I was a baby, Grandma would cradle me in her arms and softly sing "Rock-a-bye Baby." Grandma would caress my bare head with her gentle hands and whisper words of love. When I was a little older, and bigger, Grandma would hold me on her lap and tell me stories about when she was a little girl. Grandma would hold my hands in hers and play "Ten Little Soldiers" and subtly teach me to love verses, rhymes, and songs.
Sometimes I slept overnight at Grandma's. She would softly brush my hair as we knelt by her bed for our evening prayer. She would tell me tales of my mother as a little girl, and tell me how much I was like her. In the mornings, Grandma would let me help her make oatmeal mush, I didn't care to eat it, but with chocolate milk to tame it down, I could swallow it. Grandma let me help her bake cookies. I would watch her skillfully sift in the ingredients and stir and stir the mixture. I watched those hands, so strong, and so full of life. As I would sit next to Grandma and eat warm cookies, those from the first batch, she would talk to me about cooking and caring for a home, I remembered those tips.
As I grew, Grandma was always close by. I would ride the school bus to her home where I would sit at the table, eat warm bread smothered with butter, and do my homework. Grandma would be right by my side, encouraging me as I struggled, and praising me when I conquered. I learned to play the piano by following her example. I remember listening to her play long-loved hymns and wondering if I would ever be able to do the same. Grandma would encourage me to perform and would ask me to favor her with my newest piece. I would stumble across the keyboard, and she would sing along, as though my music flowed.
In high school, Grandma would ask about my friends. She discreetly taught me how to value people. If I had an argument or disagreement with a parent or sibling, I could always count on Grandma for her advice. She taught me how to speak kindly of those around me and how to look at situations individually, with an open mind. Grandma let me know how much she trusted me and that my opinions did count, but to only state those opinions when they counted! Grandma taught me to have a sense of humor and not let a difficult situation control my actions.
Grandma taught me how to visit, how to listen, how to hug, how to laugh, how to quilt, how to make cookies, how to share. Grandma filled my soul with pictures, recipes, quotes, stories. These include memories of Christmas Eve and homemade flannel nightgowns (I still have one), snowmobiling in the mountains, fishing and sleeping at the sheep camp, fresh sourdough rolls, eating onion rings, shopping, and actually buying, playing card games and not always winning, sitting at the table after a dinner and talking - dishes could wait.
She taught me trust - by trusting me. One of my jobs at her house was to dust her knick-knacks on the bookshelves. I loved holding the ceramic doll, the pictures in their frames, the stemmed gold glass bowl, lovingly wipe a rag over them, and hear Grandma tell me the story behind these precious items on her shelf.
Grandma taught me how to wear makeup! She had a lovely routine bringing her makeup bag to the kitchen table, opening it, setting the mirror up, and then cleaning, moisturizing, applying foundation, step-by-step, gently, taking her time, ending with a hint of color on her lips.
I lived with my grandparents my senior year of high school. Some of my fondest memories are of eating tomato soup, grilled cheese sandwiches, and watching Little House on the Prairie, with Grandma, while Grandpa was away at the ranch.
Grandma raised 5 children to adulthood, losing 1 child as a toddler and another child as an adult. No parent should have to bury a child, let alone 2. I watched her mourn, saw her cry, listened to her reminisce, and watched her move on.
I would like to think I'm grown-up now, but still Grandma's influence is felt. Many years ago I watched as she threaded a needle and showed Jenna how to weave it in and out of a piece of cloth. I watched as Grandma gently allowed her to knead the dough for rolls. I watched as she sat down by my daughter's side, wrapped her arm around her, stroked her hair, and started a story about when she was young. I watched, and learned. Thank you for the love Grandma, thank you for the example.