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Merry Christmas, Grandma

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Posted 12-23-2010 at 10:38 PM by Jeff Westover

Sandy's grandmother passed away yesterday at age 89. It was not unexpected and, yet, like the birth of a child, the world is changed in an instant.

The past week has been nearly unbearable. The constant bad news of decline received in long hours on the phone from California caused worry and concern on a level we've rarely experienced. We knew the outcome in advance but even still the cost in human suffering was unavoidably shocking. Not only for Grandma, who lived without food for five days before slipping away; but also for those around her, especially her own children and specifically the grandmother of my children.

And, of course, my own sweet wife, who had a cherished relationship with Grandma.

My wife is an old soul. I met and married her long after my own grandmother passed and I would have given anything for the two of them to meet. I know in my heart they would be sisters in the truest sense. And that's the way Sandy and her Grandmother were as well. For Grandma to have made it to our 47th year -- all through Sandy's childhood, her teen years and those years as a young wife and mother -- what a blessing to have been in each other's lives through all that.

My own memories of Grandma Malone -- that's Sandy's grandma as my kids know her -- are not as extensive, of course, of others who have been involved in her life. But I do have many moments with her I cherish that I've recorded for my children, whose memory of Grandma will fade fast as they get on with their own busy lives.

The first of which came at a time of a personal crisis that I told nobody about. When Sandy and I met and married I became not on a husband but also an instant father. One day while at Grandma Malone's house she put a tender hand on my shoulder after seeing a brief exchange between me and my new daughter. And she said, "You're the right man to be Aubree's father." No kinder words could have been spoken to me at that time and they were said so softly there were almost a shock to my system. Nobody knew the anxiety I was feeling, as I didn't disclose them to anyone. It was my own private crisis of confidence to solve and Grandma's tender observation bolstered me in ways I never could have imagined.

The second such moment came at the birth of my son, a grand event as he was my only son and truly a surprise (we're old fashioned in that we never learned the gender of a baby until the moment of truth). Anyway, Grandma was there, with my mother, and together they were admiring my newborn son. Grandma, with a twinkle in her eye, said, "I hate to tell you this but he's better looking than you!". It was just one of her subtle moments of humor, an endearing trait that so many can recount over so many circumstances over the years. It was a way of expressing love and joy in a moment made for such emotions. I'm so glad she was a part of it.

As for my dear wife, I've marveled at how she and Grandma have laughed, shared tears and great moments over the years, most of the past 15 years or so over the phone. It was pure love -- there was never a cross word, never a disagreement and nothing but encouragement, devotion and sharing between them. I am sure there are many out there who have experiences like that with loved ones. But between Grandparent and Grandchild -- as adults -- it seemed rare to me and I remain so grateful my wife had such a devoted and compassionate friend in her Grandmother.

When Sandy's Mom made the call yesterday that we knew was coming she merely said "Grandma's gone to spend Christmas with Grandpa."

That is a sweet thought, one that makes us all smile. Grandma lived without her sweetheart for 20 years. How wonderful their Christmas will be. And that thought gives us all great comfort.

So too does her passing at this time of the year give us greater reason to contemplate what this season is really all about.

Hope abounds in the reality of the living Christ.

We know that the time period between when the Savior was crucified and His resurrection that He went somewhere -- but where?

In 1 Peter Chapter 3 and Chapter 4 we receive the answer: "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison:...for for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the Spirit."

While Grandma has now passed from this life and is numbered with the dead we know that God knows her now, much as He knew her before she was ever born (as the Lord told Jeremiah, "...before I formed thee in the belly, I knew thee...").

This is the good news of the Gospel, the message of Christ and the very essence of what we celebrate at Christmas -- For God so loved the world -- what a tremendous, incredible gift!

And so, with sad hearts at missing Grandma, yes, we raise our eyes in gratitude and we celebrate this season wtih renewed gladness for what we know.

Merry Christmas, Grandma. We love you.
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  1. Old Comment
    Jeff, so very sorry for your loss. Grandma sounds like an amazing person. So loving and kind. I know you have all been expecting this for a while but as you say it is never easy. I will keep you all, especially Sandy in my prayers.
    Posted 12-24-2010 at 12:57 AM by caninemom3 caninemom3 is offline
 
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