Monday, January 30, 2017

My Grandma

Growing up, I don't think I realized who really shaped and molded me.  I learned ethics and values.  I made choices.  I have become the person I am today.  And arrogantly many times I am afraid I thought it was my own doing that got me to where I am, who I am.

But then days like yesterday happen.  And more than ever I remember who I have been influenced and created by.
This is my grandma, Hyla Mae Robson Bartholomew.  Yesterday, at 92 years old, she passed away.  I often talk about my grandpa, her husband.  If there was one person in this world I wish I could be more like, it would be him.  But if there is one person that I am probably more like than anyone, it is probably her.  

The hard thing with grandparents is as a grandchild we don't know them when they were young.  Especially hard with my grandma, all my memories with her are after she had a stroke that affected her speech.  I didn't know her when she was at the top of her game.  I can't imagine knowing her when she was because if there is one thing about my Grandma, she was as sharp as a tack.  And from what I am told, before her stroke her skill was even stronger.

An example of this:  Jason and I went to visit my Grandma.  She was 91 years old.  She was frail and almost completely deaf. She had been in the hospital/rehab for over a month with a broken and replaced hip.  But over and over again she kept saying to Jason, "I am so sorry I wasn't home to mail out your birthday card!  I didn't send you your birthday card."  Jason just smiled.  He had only been in the family for a short time.  He figured she was confusing him with someone else.  Because surely this 91 year old grandma didn't know her granddaughter's new husband's birthday.  But Jason didn't know my grandma.  And he didn't understand that she did not miss a single birthday, ever.  So before we left, Grandma handed us a birthday card already made out to Jason Braithwaite on the envelope.

This was my grandma.

This year, less than 1 month before my Grandma died, Jason's birthday card came in the mail. 

She cared about everyone.  She knew everyone.  Her life was about making sure that everyone felt of her love.

I cannot tell you how many times I can remember her hugging me and saying, "You know how much I love you.  I am so proud of you."

I know my grandma was proud of me.

I know this because she valued what I value.  And maybe there was a time that I thought this was a coincidence.   But of course I know that isn't true.  Looking at my life, I can now see how much of how I am is because of her example.

So here are the things that I learned from my grandma:

You do the right thing no matter what.  We don't talk about it much.  The fact that my grandpa stopped going to church.  I understand.  We don't want to make him look bad.  He is a very wonderful, outstanding, good person.  But we need to talk about it because of what my grandma did.  When my grandpa stopped going to church back in 1963 that didn't stop my grandma.  She loaded up her 5 kids and went to church every single week.  By herself.  Rain or shine, she was there.  She never missed church.  She has gone to church by herself for the last 54 years. 

If you are going to do something, do it right.  I wish I would have got more of this trait.  But my grandma was a perfectionist.  

 Be both a feminist and a traditional woman.  My grandma was the perfect example to me of the balance of feminist and traditional woman. She was a college graduated working woman.  When her children were all in school she went to work teaching junior high in Long Beach.  But my grandma was also a cook, seamstress, quilter, and could throw one heck of a party.

This is the quilt that my grandma hand quilted for my wedding.  She hand quilted a quilt for every one of her children and granddaughters.

Travel.  I need to find out how many countries my grandma has traveled to.  It was from her that I first got my taste of traveling.  Every place she would visit she would bring home gifts for us.  Some of the things I remember getting from her travels:
Pinocchio puppet from Italy
stacking dolls from Russia
traditional pajamas from China
a olive wood camel from Jordan
papyrus art from Egypt

Care about everyone.  My grandma cared so much about people and wanted everything to be fair so much that it was almost a fault.  The birthday cards were just an example.  Grandma and Grandpa would celebrate different milestones with each grandchild.  Examples of this were taking each grandchild out to dinner for their 8th birthday and presenting that child with a check that would put into a CD for their future.  After high school graduation they took each grandchild to the fancy Roof Restaurant in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building for dinner.  After they attended my Masters graduation they gave me a card with a very generous check.

The crazy thing as I type all this, is these are the few things I remember.  But I know that my entire life my grandma was there and cared.  And she would have done anything in her power to make sure I was a happy, successful, righteous person.

Grandma, thank you for always being my number 1 cheerleader.  Thank you for caring so much about me and my happiness.  Thank you for your years of selfless service.  Thank you for the countless times you took me in and made me at home.  I will miss the excitement of finally pulling into your drive way.   I will miss climbing the stairs into your kitchen and calling out your name.  I will miss your hugs and sincere compliments.  I will miss seeing your distinct handwriting on every letter and card you have written me with your signature slanted and.

Thank you for being the best grandma a girl could ever hope for.  

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