Thursday, April 19, 2012


I've been up and missing for the last week or two but for just cause. To my dismay, my grandmother unexpectedly passed away - Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012 at 7:05pm. Grandma had an injury that wasn't caught at the hospital which caused her further damage and she was unable to sustain her own breathing. Her living will requested that she not be dependent on machines to live and that she may be allowed to pass quickly, peacefully and with dignity. My family honored my grandmother's request and she passed surrounded by at least 20 family members - all of whom had the opportunity to say their goodbyes and give grandma a hug and kiss. I wanted to write this post, to remember and honor my grandmother, however, it was a difficult post to write. Not because of grieving but because I simply felt that I didn't know if, in one blog post, I could do grandma justice. Nevertheless, I've decided to write this post to remember the strongest woman I think I have ever known in my life, my grandmother, Dorothy Katherine Gladys.

Grandma 2011 - A visit with grandpa. She wore her own crocheted headband.

Grandma, as I mentioned, was a strong woman. Strong in spirit, mind, body and will. Many of the qualities that I, as a woman, would like to possess, I saw portrayed in my grandmother. If I could attain at least 1/4 of the strength that she had, I would say that is a success. Grandma was very strong - some my call it "stubborn". Okay, we all called it stubborn, but it was a strong stubborn. A stubborn that didn't want help, a stubborn that persisted through surgeries, illnesses and injuries, a kind that got her through raising 5 boys on a farm, being a grandmother to 16 grandchildren and a great-grandmother to 17 and one that made her one of the most desirable seamstresses in her town.
Yes, my grandma was a stubborn German.

Underneath this stubborn exterior lied so many of the other characteristics that those close to grandma got to experience firsthand.

Grandma and I while visiting Grandpa - 2011

Grandma was a creative woman. As I mentioned, she was a seamstress in her and grandpa's town of dwelling and well-known for her sewing abilities. My father told us how once a popular chain store in my grandmother's town approached her to make them curtains. Grandma had a lot of orders backed up and told them that it would be a year and a half till their curtains could be completed. Guess what? They waited. Now if that doesn't speak to someone's reputation, I don't know what does.

Though grandma's curtain making skills were second to none, I don't believe this was what impressed us grandchildren the most. Instead, it was the manner in which she used her God-given talent to express her deep love and care for her grandchildren. This was most clearly witnessed in the mass production of Christmas ornaments - every year a unique and different one - from birth till we reached 18 years of age for every grandchild and I believe great-grandchild. Even though I knew every year that my ornament (with a gift of money) would be waiting for me at Christmas, it still didn't ruin the suspense. I couldn't wait to see what unique handcraft grandma had brainstormed for that particular year.  I can't imagine the countless hours that she likely spent in her easy chair every year preparing each of these hand-crafted treasures, not knowing their future destiny. Would the ornaments be kept and treasured, would they continue to hang on Christmas trees for years to come? It didn't matter. This was a labor of love and the ornaments would continue to make their annual appearance.

A family day at the park. Grandma and Grandpa at the head of the table.

Being born in another era altogether, many of the things some of us grandchildren did, I am quite certain were a shock to grandma. During grandma's funeral, we had pulled out a ton of different photos. My cousin posted one of her with my grandmother - her with her tongue sticking out with a giant bar piercing going through it and grandma happily smiling next to her. I thought that this was such a unique picture that demonstrated quite a juxtaposition. Though I'm sure grandma could not understand why anyone would put something metal through their tongue, there was grandma, sitting next to her granddaughter, still loving and accepting her as she is. This really captured the essence of grandma. My sister, during the reading of the eulogy piece she had written for grandma's funeral, mentioned that we all have had less than shining moments, but grandma stuck by our side in all of them. Though grandma didn't always approve of our decisions, her love and acceptance was unconditional. The one thing I know that we can all say is that we most certainly experienced her unconditional love.

Grandma, Grandpa and I - Grandpa's 92nd Birthday Celebration 2012

Something that really struck me during grandma's funeral and that I was reminded of by all of our pictures was that grandma had a real zest for life. As long as she was here, she was going to be living life. Grandma was adventurous - from a trip to Europe with grandpa in her younger years, card clubs, bowling leagues, dances with grandpa as a youngster, to being the grandma that you could take out for a giant glass of beer (sometimes in a glass boot). If opportunity for an adventure presented itself, grandma would take it. This was made even more clear to me by grandma's living will. Upon returning from the hospital after grandma had passed, I was looking at grandma's living will. Grandma made the statement in her will that, "life is about quality, not quantity." Grandma lived in the way that if she was going to be here on this earth, she wanted to LIVE. There probably isn't a woman more insistent upon living in her own home than my grandma. Grandpa recently has had some dementia problems so had to go into a rest home only a matter of blocks from their home. Grandma would visit every other day but wanted to stay at home because she said they couldn't afford for both of them to be in an assisted living facility. I don't think this was necessarily the case, I think grandma wanted to continue living life, on her terms, until it was impossible not to. Despite all of our concerns, grandma was going to be home alone and she was going to keep on doing what she had always done; going to card club, doing laundry, visiting grandpa, doing crafts, and simply living. Grandma wanted quality, not quantity. Till her day of passing, she lived and loved life.

Source: via Martha on Pinterest

There are so many other things that I could say about grandma, but blog posts can't go on forever. Some of the things I think I will miss most when I think about grandma is her indelible laugh, one that will always remain in my memory and that I loved to hear. The way she always played with my hair when I sat next to her. Understanding that only she could give and the belief that she expressed in my goals and dreams, even at the sacrifice of getting to spend time with her and grandpa. The bright pink colored lipstick she wore, that only a woman like her with a strong personality, could pull off. The way that, even though I speak of her as if she was perfect, she wasn't.  Yet she was  perfectly human and the perfect grandma.

Love you and miss you grandma!

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