For a good portion of my life, we’ve spent Thanksgiving weekend traveling to south Georgia to be with my grandparents and to visit with my dad’s side of the family. One year, when E was just a toddler, we spent Thanksgiving with M’s family instead of going to the farm because we knew it would be the last holiday we would spend with his grandmother before she passed away. We decided to fly down to south Georgia a few weeks before Thanksgiving so that we could still spend a weekend with my grandmother, and we had such a grand time there with her. Thanksgiving weekends are always a lot of fun – lots of family and food and activity. But this weekend was different – just the three of us, my grandmother, and the aunts that would stop in for meals and visits.
E was the center of attention, and my grandmother only wanted to be in the room where she was playing. She would watch her for hours on end, and comment to anyone listening that “all the children are precious and beautiful, but this child, now she is something special”. There had never been a more miraculous child that walked this earth, none smarter, none prettier, no one as amazing as her. She noticed how well she talked, her extraordinary vocabulary, how talented and advanced she was. Every movement and gesture was devoured and noted. E was oblivious to the compliments, but M and I ate them up and smiled along with her. How could you not?
I have so many childhood memories of my grandparents and my visits to the farm in the summer and over holidays. I’m sure I’ll think of many more as I travel down to the farm again this weekend to say goodbye to my grandmother one last time. She lived there for over 99 years before passing away in her home a few evenings ago. I’ll try to write down some of those stories while I’m away.
But for now, I’m remembering this part of my grandmother that I most closely associate with these last ten years – the act of folding children into her arms and watching her soak them in for as long as they would let her hold them. I think she drew her strength from them – perhaps we can assign some of the credit for her longevity to her desire to hold as many of those children in her arms as she could. She had dozens of grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren. We often dedicate or baptize our children as infants in the church, but to be able to place our children in her arms where each one in turn became the most extraordinary being to ever grace this earth – what a blessing that was for our family.