Sunday, August 15, 2010

30 and 85... A Celebration of Life

My Granny and I share our birthday month. We both hit milestones this year... For me it was the Big 3-0, while my dear sweet Granny celebrated her 85th.

I've learned many things from this precious woman, and I'm proud to be her Granddaughter.

1984-- Bedtime devotional time, when we would
sing many of Papa's old favorite hymnals.
Such fond memories fill my heart when I think of Granny: making biscuits from scratch at the crack of dawn; getting fresh sun-dried sheets off the clothes line; feeding Sandie and Annie doggie treats; taking long walks through the pasture, out to the old barn; the sweet country voices singing at her tiny little church; getting to pick which sugary cereals we wanted because she always bought the tiny combo packages of General Mills cereals, since we all liked different things; warm hugs that smell of fresh soap, lotion and vaseline; the softness of her face rubbing against my cheeks during hugs and kisses; playing dress-up in her old wedding gown, and picking flowers off of her beautiful bushes for our bouquets; delicious homemade birthday cakes.... just to name a few.

1984--Patiently, Granny always let us help
feed Papa through his tube.
My favorite memories are of Granny taking care of Papa, who became very ill shortly after my first birthday. He was diagnosed with ALS, also known as "Lou Gehrig's Disease." During the entire long and heart-wrenching progression of the disease, Granny never left Papa's side. Fully paralyzed, Papa was forced to rely on his 90lb bride, and ex-nurse. Granny moved him each and every morning from his side of the bed, to his favorite recliner in the living room, where he could look out at the view of their beautiful farm. She fed him a healthy liquid diet, that she mixed herself, through a tube that went directly to his stomach. I remember helping to pour his meals in that tube. Many times a day, Granny would "beat" Papa's back, sides and chest to make sure there was no fluid build-up in his lungs. We would all pile on the bed with the two of them, cup our hands the proper way, and drum along with Granny, in her rhythmic patterns.

During the long, hard years Papa struggled with this horrible disease, he never once suffered from a single bed sore. Recently, my Aunt Peggy, who is also a nurse, brought to all of our attention what a feat this was.

1981-- That's me in Papa's lap.  How much does that look like
Flash Flood?? And I love that Matt is rocking the
short shorts and knee-high striped socks.
1981-- Me (on the right) with one of my favorite cousins,
Jonathan, tearing up Granny's cabinets.
Again, that looks like Flash Flood in a dress!
This was back in the 80's and early 90's, so there was not as much confirmed research for ALS. At that time, people weren't sure of the brain activity for the victims this horrible disease had claimed. None the less, Granny still spoke to Papa constantly, as if he might sit up and answer her. She always had us come sit with him in his recliner, and would say to him, "Here's Holly! Tell him about your dance lessons, Holly." Now that we know he could hear and comprehend it all, it makes me that much prouder of my Granny, for making sure he was a part of all our lives. Even if he couldn't be active physically, he still knew us, and loved us very much. Before putting Papa to bed at night, we would all gather around in the living room and sing his old favorite hymnals, then Granny or my Daddy would read a devotional. Granny is who taught me all the words to "Oh, How I love Jesus."  And when she sang it, you knew she meant it.

Granny never ever left Papa's side. She was his main care-taker for almost 12 years, and kept a cheerful attitude through it all-- grateful for the time she had with him, never once complaining or asking for outside help. What an extraordinary example of unconditional love!

Even with all the stresses in her life, Granny never spoke harshly to us, though she certainly could/should have at times. All of us wild grandchildren might be jumping on the beds in the "kids room" and she would softly say, "I don't think your Mommas want y'all to do that."

She took care of their farm, because that's the place Papa loved and had wanted to live forever. It wasn't until Papa passed away, that she even considered selling their farm. When she did finally move to "town" she chose a quaint retirement neighborhood, so she could still live on her own, but around good friends and neighbors.

The Farmhouse, where if walls could talk, many of
my favorite childhood memories would be told.
Granny first dedicated her life to our Lord and Savior, and then to all those around her. Her outpouring of love to all who are fortunate enough to know her, resides in each of us. To know my Granny, is absolutely to love her. Her life is as pure an example of how to live for Jesus, and love Him, as any life could be.

So, as I turn 30, and reflect on all the things in my own life that I would like to change, and do better in the next 30 years, I am thankful to be surrounded by so many great role models. My parents, my siblings, my aunts, uncles, cousins, and dear friends. And mostly, my Godly Granny, who has lived her life simply to glorify God.

2001--My Wedding Day
I love you, Granny. And I'm so proud to call you MY Granny. Happy Birthday!

Love Always,

Your Favorite Granddaughter
(Okay, so maybe you can't say exactly which one of us IS your favorite, but this is my blog, so I'm naming myself. :) And knowing you like we do, I'm sure we all are truly your favorites. Because you're wonderful like that.)
2003-- Granny meets Her Highness, 
the first Great-Grandchild.


L Rukes said...

Happy Birthday!! 30 and 5 kiddos - very impressive indeed! Thanks for your sweet comments about our new addition. We're very blessed!!

Mandy said...

Such a sweet post. :) Happy Birthday!

Nikki McElroy said...

Of all the wonderful Holly-posts, I think this is my favorite! I want to hug your grandmother! Tell her that your friends love her too and thank her for her example. And thank you for sharing her with us!

Trace Car Driver said...

awww. happy bday to you and your granny! what a sweet sweet post- love all the memories! love the part about sugary cereals- isn't that what grannies are for? :o)

Dana said...

Oh wow, Happy Birthday to the both of you. But, I'm stuck on the disease. I didn't know much about it.. Wow, thank goodness she never stopped believing he might be able to hear her..

Sorry we got cut off today.. I just gave up.

love you

Lindy said...

What a wonderful woman! I loved reading all of your fun and sweet memories of time with your Granny. Happy Birthday to her and wishing her many more healthy and happy years!

Peggy said...

Holly, this blog brought me to tears! You have a beautiful way of remembering the extra special parts of Granny that we all love. You, too are a very special woman - one that I'm very proud of. I love you, Peggy

Anonymous said...

Precious thoughts, Holly! Such a sweet tribute to your grandmother--makes me want to be a better Beba. You have a special way with words and with thoughts. You are writing a delightful book here, you know, Sweetie?
Thank you for sharing!
Rebecca Click

Anonymous said...

it was very interesting to read.