Friday, December 17, 2010


{I wrote the bulk of this post about my grandma and her funeral right after the fact, but I never posted it because I felt like it was incomplete.  I've done my best to finish it, but I still feel like it doesn't do her justice.  I decided it was a greater injustice to not honor her at all, so here is my attempt.}

Grandma was sick for a long time.  Not sick sick--not something with a name like pneumonia or cancer--but sick in the sense that her small body was no longer an adequate vehicle for her great spirit.  Her decline was gradual but steady.  These past couple decades, she fought for a fraction of the productivity she had previously enjoyed; tasks took many times longer than they used to.  She lost the use of one shoulder.  Then another.  Her back began to give out.  Osteoporosis, gout, compression fractures, fatigue and pain slowed her down.  But still she cared for Grandpa, still she cooked delicious meals, and still she painstakingly made beautiful quilts for her growing posterity.  But then her vision began to deteriorate from macular degeneration.  Then her pain made even a trip to the bathroom a monumental task.  Then she lost Grandpa.  And it was too much.  There came a day when she could no longer get out of bed, she could no longer handle the pain, she could no longer rely on her mind, which had always been so keen.

{A very small sampling of Grandma's talents and gifts}

I have had several caring people ask me if her death was expected.  It is a difficult question to answer.  My mother often says she has never seen someone with such an indomitable will to live.  I have said "goodbye" to my Grandma many times when her health was poor and she'd not been expected to make it.  Each time, though, she would rally and make a modestly miraculous recovery.  I said goodbye to Grandma this past May.  Just as I had in February.  And December.  And the May before that.  And over six years ago before I left on my mission.  As of a few weeks ago, I firmly believed I would get to "say goodbye" again this December.

While I selfishly wish I could have had that opportunity to hold her hand again, to sing to her, to kiss her cheek and tell her I love her, I know that this course was the merciful one.

As I looked at her in her casket, dressed elegantly in gauzy white, I reflected on the blessing it is to know that she is free now.  I touched her right shoulder, the one that has been a source of such pain and frustration to her for over ten years.  And I smiled through my tears.

{My family.}

My dad conducted the funeral services and shared a few thoughts at the end.  "Imagine Mom and Dad," he said, "walking hand in hand and talking... and actually being able to hear each other."  And that's where I see them: someplace green with plenty of flowers for Grandma to tend and an oven for her to bake in.  I imagine she's back to taking care of Grandpa, and I'm sure they're quietly serving those around them, just as they've always done.  I am humbled when I think of the legacy they have left me.

{The view from the Georgetown cemetery}

Just before they closed the casket, the family took a few minutes to say their final goodbyes.  I was standing quietly in the far back corner.  I watched as the families of the oldest siblings filed up to take their turn.  They leaned on each other, held onto each other, cried into each others' shoulders.  It was a painful moment, and I looked away.  The room was full-to-bursting with family.  Right in my line of sight, between me and the casket, was my cousin and her beautiful baby girl.  Lyla laughed and grinned and stretched up on spindly legs, her back arching proudly, tiny arms flailing.  She cooed and babbled happily. 

I felt a ray of joy cut through the haze of loss as I watched her and smiled, seeing my aunts, uncles, and cousins pay their last respects at the casket behind the happy baby.  It was a circle of life moment--somewhat cliche, I know--but intensely personal, surrounded as I was by a circle of family.  Grandma had given all of us life, brought us all together.  She lived for us, but even though she is now gone, she lives in us.  

My sisters and I sang the closing song during the service:

When I leave this frail existence,
When I lay this mortal by,
Father, Mother, may I meet you
In your royal courts on high?
Then, at length, when I've completed
All you sent me forth to do,
With your mutual approbation
Let me come and dwell with you.

I miss you, Grandma.  Give Grandpa a hug for me.  See you later.


  1. You captured this day perfectly. I love your writing, and I love you.

  2. Lindsay, I love this! So beautiful.

  3. Found you on MMB. This was a beautiful tribute to your Grandma. And I feel like heaven will be blessed to have her.

    Thanks for sharing.

  4. Beautiful and written with such elegance. You have such a wonderful family and you are a wonderful friend, daughter and grand daughter :) I am glad your grandma is "home." Thank you for sharing this. Perspective is hard to come by this time of year, and I needed to read this today.