happy birthday grandma

Sep 3, 2009

Today is (didn’t get this post done yesterday!) yesterday was my grandma’s birthday. She died last year at Christmastime, which was always one of her favorite times of the year. I miss her terribly. Her love for life, for people around her, and for the Savior taught me how to live. Her example of patience taught me to wait upon the Lord. Her example of enduring pain, heartache, and life’s little injustices taught me how I want to (but certainly haven’t figured out!) live my life to the end of my days. Her ability to make each person in her life feel special, cherished, adored, and beloved is a gift I yearn to develop. Her self-control in conversation has shown me the numerous advantages of restraint in speech. Her love for her family taught me the importance of family, what “family” means, and what kind of family I wanted to have. I cannot express my love for this great matriarch as she is beyond words – words seem empty compared to the feelings of my heart.

Here are some pictures of her – Myrtle Rollins Smith:Grandma at 17At age 17 – isn’t she beautiful!

Grandma and Grandpa Smith This is how I knew my grandparents growing up. When she died they had 9 children, 42 grandchildren, 65 great-grandchildren, and 3 great-great grandchildren, and we all loved her to pieces.

Grandma's 85th Birthday Party Grandma’s 85th Birthday Party – Blythe is 7, Keziah is almost 3, and Fisher and Annesley aren’t born yet.

Grandma's 90th Birthday Party with the two girlies Grandma’s 90th Birthday Party last September with Blythe and Andie and of course, lots of flowers that all three of them LOVE.

Thanksgiving 2008 This was Thanksgiving 2008 and the last time we were able to have fun with grandma. She died 3 weeks later.

Here is the letter I wrote her for her 90th birthday last year – when I wrote it I had no idea I had so little time left with her. If I had known, I would have cancelled all my Idaho activities and gone to stay with her for her last few months.

September 12, 2008

Dear Grandma,

Happy 90th Birthday!!!! I am so glad you have lived such a rich and long life so that I get to be with you for longer! I can’t imagine my life without you and I think God is keeping you here because He knows I am not ready to let you go.

I want to write to you and express the feelings of my heart. I know I tell you I love you all the time, but I want you to be able to read it and really KNOW it deep down inside.

I cannot think of you without starting to cry and thanking my Heavenly Father for having sent me to your family. Your influence in my life blesses me each day and helps me to be a kinder, gentler, better person. Each day as I work in my kitchen, I think of your example of joyfully preparing food for your family day after day while also feeding many others and giving service to many more. I think of your patience with a houseful of people. I think of your endless energy to work from early in the morning to late at night, always giving and serving and loving. I think of your gentle heart which feels and loves and lets you cry at sentimental things. I think of your hands rolling out pie crusts and cookies. I think of your dignity as you have grown older and how you have remained a true lady in spite of your physical constraints. I think of your love for our Savior and how He will welcome you home into His waiting arms. I know you are going to His arms and because I want so desperately to be with you always, I strive to become more Christlike so I can be with you.

You have shown me the power of love. I am drawn to the power of being right and being first and being “best”, but I have learned that none of these is powerful at all. Love is the only thing that is truly powerful. It is God’s power and it can and does bring about miracles.

I love your smile and the twinkle you get in your eyes as they light up with joy. I love playing games with you. I love hearing your stories. I love eating your delicious cooking. I love reading your poems and songs; I especially love reading your journals and getting to experience your day to day life as a busy wife and mother. I love hearing you sing. I love pushing you to church. I love sitting next to you in Relief Society as sisters together in the gospel. I love being with you in the temple and seeing you as a Queen. I love watching you interact with your grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren – you make each one feel so special. I love calling you and getting help with cooking, sewing, Scrabble, life, or just hearing about your day. I love your curiosity and love of learning. I love your adorable giggle. I love to hear you bear your testimony. I love holding your hand. I love feeling your sweet lips on my cheek.

I count it as one of the greatest privileges of my life to have been able to come and stay with you so much in the last few years. I am so grateful that my children were able to stay in your home and get to know you. I loved being able to cook for you and dress you and help you get into bed. I loved staying up late in the night talking and laughing. I loved praying with you. I loved being of service to you because you are the greatest woman I have ever known. I loved making your scrapbook and learning all the fun things the rest of the family wanted to say to you. I loved watching your face when you read it and cried or laughed or smiled to yourself.

One day when I was reading The Velveteen Rabbit to my children, the following passage jumped out at me and reminded me of you. Thank you for being real and for letting us all love you till you are gray and wrinkled and tired out. You have taught me what “family” and “love” means and for that I will be forever grateful.

Happy 90th Birthday…may you make it to 100!!!!!!
Love you forever,

The Skin Horse had lived longer in the nursery than any of the others. He was so old that his brown coat was bald in patches and showed the seams underneath, and most of the hairs in his tail had been pulled out to string bead necklaces. He was wise, for he had seen a long succession of mechanical toys arrive to boast and swagger, and by-and-by break their mainsprings and pass away, and he knew that they were only toys, and would never turn into anything else. For nursery magic is very strange and wonderful, and only those playthings that are old and wise and experienced like the Skin Horse understand all about it.

“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful.
“When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

“I suppose you are real?” said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive. But the Skin Horse only smiled.

Happy Birthday Grandma. I will try to remember the lessons you have taught me. I miss you. I miss your hand on my arm, your lips on my cheek, and your voice in my ears.

I love you.

(and now that I can longer see the words on the screen through my tears, I will go start our school day)

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