My Grandma Perkins passed away this last Tuesday, so she has been on my mind a lot this week. I have known all week that I wanted to do something special for her, but I wanted to wait until after her funeral so that all of my thoughts would be more complete. We've had such a great week in so many ways as we have gathered as family and friends to remember the grandma that we all loved and miss. In moments of solitude I find myself talking to her and thinking about some of my favorite memories of her:
- her purple puffy coat
- her sitting on the edge of the seat in her car so she could see over the steering wheel
- her beautiful white hair
- playing dress-up with her size 5 shoes when I was in elementary school
- her pack of gum that she was always willing to share
- mashed potatoes with white gravy
- the pitcher of grape juice that was always in the fridge
- her holding and bouncing babies
- going on drives with her and Grandpa
- spending endless hours at their house (I was there nearly every day of my childhood)
- her crossword puzzles & pepsi every afternoon
- seeing her snuggled under a blanket up to her chin since she was always cold
- her hugs and kisses
- her famous sayings: "not much of anything," "gettin' along pretty good," "ya don't have to rush off," "I'll have what she's having"
- little conversations we had the last couple years
- the last time I saw her and heard her tell me she loved me
Not many people knew my grandma very well because she was a very quiet, non-confrontational person. She lived her life quietly doing service for those around her. She was such an example of selflessness. My grandma suffered from Alzheimer's the last 8 years or so, so sometimes it was hard to see her being confused and frustrated with herself when she didn't know who we were or what was going on. We got to learn pretty fast that open-ended questions weren't good to ask because she would get frustrated when she couldn't answer them. When her condition became such that my grandpa could no longer take care of her on his own, my parents moved them over to their house. What a tremendous blessing that was in all of our lives! It was really hard, but it was such a blessing as well. We used to all stop by and see them in their little white house on the corner when we would come to town for a visit, but when they moved to my parents' house, we saw them much more often. Not only did we see them more often, but we were given the tremendous opportunity to serve my grandma. She got to where she couldn't do some things for herself that we probably often take for granted. That gave us the opportunity to help her do those things or do those things for her. I didn't think much about it at the time. I used to just chat with her while helping take care of her or while sitting with her for an afternoon so my grandpa could get out for a while. Those little chats have been on my mind a lot this week. One thing I used to say to her often after helping her get ready for the day was, "You'd better go tell Grandpa you're ready for a hot date now." She would just agree with me and head in to her recliner next to Grandpa. How priceless that time I had with her was. I wouldn't change it for anything. Sadly, it finally got to where we could no longer provide the medical care she needed and so we had to send her to a nursing home. The visits to the nursing home (as hard as they were) were no less precious than the time we spent with her in my parent's home. I'm so thankful for the opportunity I had to serve her even when at times she didn't know who I was. I'm also thankful for the opportunity which I had to tell her I loved her before she passed away. We knew she wasn't doing well last Sunday so we went to see her. It was heart-wrenching to see her in pain and not doing very well. I was given one last opportunity to serve her as I held her hand and stroked her arm to try and calm her. I was able to embrace her and tell her how much I loved her. She passed away about 36 hours later.
As much as we miss her and as hard as it is to realize she has gone from this life, what a blessing it is that she doesn't have to suffer anymore, that she no longer has to be confused or frustrated with herself. I am so thankful for my knowledge of the plan of happiness. When I get thinking about her and missing her, I picture the reunion she would have had with her mother, father and sister when she got to the other side. I picture her with our family's future children--getting to know them before they come to earth. I am so thankful for the Savior and for the opportunity which we have to be together forever if we choose to live worthy of that blessing.
This has been a hard week for our family, but it has also been a very priceless week, one I will never forget, as it was spent discussing our Father in Heaven's plan for us, as well as the tremendous part this little woman played in all of our lives. I will be forever grateful that I was able to live just across the lawn from such a wonderful woman who has had such a tremendous influence in my life, especially in her latter years as she taught me what it means to truly love someone through serving them. I pray that I can live my life in such a way that I will be given the opportunity to embrace her once again when this life is over. I also pray that I never forget the wonderful memories I have of this five-foot tall, white-haired woman that I have called "Grandma."