Saturday was All Souls Day. Saturday was the day that Gramma’s body died and she was released from her earthly bonds to return home again, just as she’s been wanting to for awhile. She was born on October 3, 1915, so at 98 years old, she has an awful lot of family and friends who were already there ready to greet her with open arms, loving kisses and cheers of joy.
I imagine there were a few “hallelujahs!” and amens in the mix, too. Gramma loved to go to a nearby Baptist church where the sermons were passionate and the congregation filled with joyful hallelujahs. When she couldn’t drive any longer, she had to switch to another church that she could walk to. She told me that it was nice but, leaning in conspiratorially, that it “wan’t as nice as the other one. They’re much quieter.” She preferred her church to be loud and boisterous!
Elizabeth Sears was a tiny little thing, with a head of red hair and sparkling blue eyes. She had a flirty, fun way about her; a twinkly, happy, we’re-all-gonna-have-a-great-time kind of way. If you met her, you loved her. She was utterly and profoundly irresistible. For the last two months as she was in hospice care at home, her neighbors all visited and asked about her. Everyone loved “Mrs. Sears.”
She was a farm girl and darned proud of it, too. She grew up in Kansas and had that hardy Midwestern attitude, never complaining but just moving through life’s challenges as they came up. If problems came up, she didn’t waste time on complaints; she simply worked on a solution.
When I visited the last few years, we’d have coffee and talk. She had such wonderful stories to share about her life, about being married four times, about leaving her first husband and taking her two daughters to California to make a new life. Gramma worked during the war as a “Rosie the Riveter.” She was very proud to be able to buy her house and said that she was finally home and would never leave it. She never did.
Her storytelling is legendary in the family. She was always smiling as she shared her memories. Gramma’s entire being would light up and she’d chuckle delightedly about funny little things that happened. I loved that part, her lighting up with delight. Her delight was utterly infectious and you found yourself drawn into her smile and personality and that light that she radiated, glowing with happiness around her, an aura of colorful vibrancy.
The last few years, when we’d talk, she’d tell me that she’d lived a very good, long life and she would be happy to go home to God any time. She’d tilt her head and shrug her shoulders and say that she didn’t know why God kept her here, but she’d smile and say that it’s up to Him and she was fine with that. Another time when I visited, she pulled down the neck of her turtleneck and showed me her neck, saying how she just didn’t like the wrinkles that she had there now. Then she simply pulled up her turtleneck again and kept on telling her stories. Another time, she showed me how her fingers on her right hand had curled due to arthritis, making it hard to grasp her garden clippers. Gramma told me that she found that she could uncurl them just enough with her other hand to put the clippers in her right hand and once she had them in her hand, she could clip away! She just never wasted any time feeling disappointed in anything in life.
I could tell Gramma stories all day. I loved her beyond and beyond. She was actually my ex-husband’s Gramma, but I loved her the instant I met her and she loved me. When my husband and I had our daughter Amber and made her a great-grandmother, she gained a new nickname: Great G. After I divorced, nothing changed between her and I; we were still family to one another. We corresponded, I visited, she always always sent gifts to my daughter (her great-granddaughter) for holidays and birthdays, I sent her pics of Amber growing up through the years. When my daughter had her daughters, I told her we had to go visit Great G so they could all meet since Great G was now a great-great grandmother.
And now Great G is dancing in heaven, just as she’s been wanting. I’m so happy for her joy and for the reward of heaven for her. I’m happy to have had her in my life and look forward to being reunited once again when I’m called home, too. I expect she’ll greet me with a hearty “hallelujah!” I love you, Gramma!