Marcus started bragging about his grandmother almost as soon as I met him 5 years ago, and having two of the finest grandmothers around myself, I was anxious to meet her to see what the fuss was all about. When I met her a couple months later, at her 75th birthday dinner, I knew she was worth his every brag and more. I’ll never forget getting to know her that weekend of her birthday as Marcus and I took her and Papa Joe on a whirlwind touristy day around Virginia Beach. We talked while wandering around the Aquarium, over ice cream cones at the Purple Cow and into dusk as we sat on the benches on the beach. By the end of the day I felt more than completely accepted by her, I felt like she loved me and just really enjoyed her time with me. It wasn’t just me though, as I got to know her over the following years, it was apparent that she loved everybody, accepted them and enjoyed them.
Grandma Dee & Papa Joe’s place was the destination of our first road trip together when we were dating. Grandma Dee and I stayed up late as she told me stories about her family, told me about all the themed parties she threw over the years, and how great she thought Marcus was. The next couple of years were peppered with weddings, birthdays and baptisms-all perfect for grandparent visiting. When baby JP was a’cooking in my tum, we headed up to DC for a way overdue visit. We just fit the trip in during a busy summer and I am so glad we did. To watch Grandma Dee take loving care of Papa Joe, flitter about the kitchen constantly to make sure I was getting enough for me+baby, remind me of all God’s promises and dig through box after box of beautiful photographs she had taken was the ultimate example to me. Grandma Dee knew the meaning of quality time, and she gave it to me like a present every single time I was with her.
When we heard she was sick, we took the baby on his first trip to meet his great-grandma. We had a perfect day. Whether or not she was feeling well, I’ll never know, but she was full of joy and kept telling me all the things she needed to praise the Lord about. It is no surprise to me that baby James seemed enamored by her. She smiled at him constantly, talked to him seriously, and even made puppets for him out of his blanket. He loved her with smiles and coos and eager kicking on her hospital bed. We snacked on sweets, spent time looking out the window and held hands while she told me all about her family and growing up in Pennsylvania. We prayed together and kissed goodbye and I didn’t really believe it would be the last time I would see her.
The week after Easter was a whirlwind of celebrating her. The funeral in DC was beautiful but going to her home in Pennsylvania was so special to me. I thought about what the priest in DC said when he advised us to imitate the way she lived her life. In fact, I was sure it was her voice I heard in my heart, urging me to make an extra, out of the way stop, to see my grandparents. My father-in-law gave the most perfect, touching Eulogy and I have not been able to stop thinking about it since. He reminded us how she CHOOSE to be happy and holy.
After she passed away, I was telling my mom about her. How fantastic our last visit was. I felt the lump rising in my throat as I remembered how she kept telling my son “Next time you see me we’ll do something fun!” and “next time you see me I’ll have toys for you to play with” and embarrassed about her lack of lipstick & fancy hairdo that day “next time you see me, I’ll be beautiful” My mom had the perfect response, as she sensed my sadness that their would not be a next time. “Laura, she was right…next time you see her, she will be beautiful”
Grandma Dee, you are so beautiful but I can’t wait to see you in Heaven where you will be even more glorious! Pray for me Grandma Dee, that I can give others quality time, serve with a smile, and choose to be happiness and holiness. We keep pictures of your joyful face in a picture on our fridge, and in an a frame in our living room. But even more- I see you in my son everyday- James Patrick has your eyes!
Thanks for loving me Grandma Dee!