She had a magic about her. She moved through the world with such grace and love. Anytime you were with her, she made you feel like the most important person in the world.
I grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah. I lived in the same house my whole life, the same house in which my dad spent most of his growing up years. When I was a senior in high school, my parents felt impressed to move away to Idaho. We were then about 200 miles from all our Salt Lake family, my grandma included. Anytime I tell people this they assume that this was a really hard thing for me to do, moving my senior year of high school. And to them I always say that if my parents had forced me to go, it probably would have been, but my dad would always say when the topic of me moving to Idaho arose, "We'll do what's right." I was dead-set that the right thing was for me to stay in Utah and graduate with all my friends. My friend Erin's parents offered me a place to stay, as did my Grandma. I was sure I was staying.
Eventually, I had another experience, which I won't go into right now, that opened my mind to the possibility of moving. I realized that I could make a whole new set of friends if I moved. I could be the mysterious "new girl" for the first time in my life. And I'm sure I was not conscious about it then, but I probably wouldn't have had a very easy time without my family around me. I have an awesome family. And so, I decided to move.
Why am I telling you this story? Because today, in one of the many moments I felt my Grandmother's grace alight on my heart, I realized how blessed I was to make the choice to move to Idaho. I think, had I stayed in Utah, that I would have lived, not with my Grandma Carol, but with my friend, Erin. Her house was closer to everything... school, work, friends... and she was my FRIEND! How cool would that be to live with one of my best friends? (I didn't know at the time that living with friends has good points, but it is also full of challenges.) So, I chose to move and with that choice came the opportunity of coming back to Salt Lake City to visit.
From the time we moved in 1995 until the time my precious Grandma passed away in 2006, whenever we'd come back to Salt Lake (which was frequent) we would stay at her house. For ten years I was graciously welcomed into her home. And when I became a wife, she welcomed my husband as warmly as she did her own granddaughter. When my children came along, she adored them and thrilled to have them in her house. I know it's not easy to have small children in your house, especially when you're used to quiet, but her generous heart never faltered.
When I was staying there for our family Christmas parties, I would help her in her preparations. I would set tables, arrange relish trays, move chairs, decorate her Christmas tree, peel potatoes, cook hams, vacuum, shine sinks and make cookies. She did so much that I was completely unaware of before I got the chance to be there for the prep. It was my joy to help her and she always made me feel like she couldn't have done it without me, even though we both know that for all of my life before 1995, she did just that.
Every year she would make her special clam dip. She had a special fork that she kept at the back of her silverware drawer... it was her clam-dip-cream-cheese stirring fork. She just liked the way it felt in her fingers... those fingers that I can still see holding that fork. We had so much fun, laughing as we made ready for all those she so devoutly loved.
She was, quite simply, the most delightful human being I've ever encountered on this earth.
She had a poem framed in her kitchen window sill that her friend, Kaye, had written for her. I've read it so many times, I don't think I could forget it if I tried. It went like this:
Your sunflower self,
of bosom earth,
warms the weary world.
How true it was. How true it is. She continues to warm this weary world in the memory of anyone who knew her.
I miss you fiercely, Grandma.
Ella and Grandma Carol, 2002.