She is there in my earliest memories. I still remember being on vacation in Colorado Springs at the age of three or four, and seeing her and grandpa in a parking lot where they were meeting up with us. Seeing them was a surprise, and I could not have been any more overjoyed. I was so excited I started running furiously, only to stumble and fall down hard out of my enthusiasm. Grandma hurried right up to calm me. It’s apt that that’s my first memory of her; she was always there when I needed her.
I always loved going to see her and Grandpa at the farm because it not only meant building precarious forts out of the tetanus infested refuse of Grandpa’s junk pile, it also meant an amazing variety of home made pies, fluffy mashed potatoes, games of Aggravation, and unwavering, unconditional love. Those days on the farm, especially the week I spent there every summer, were some of the very happiest I have ever had in my thirty eight years of life, and she’s the reason why. Whenever I feel downtrodden or worried, memories of those days with her on the farm always cheer me up like nothing else.
As I have grown into an adult I have gained the unfortunate knowledge that so many people in this world are selfish, petty, venal, and mean-spirited. Grandma was the opposite of that, and I only realized later that her kindness, generosity of spirit, and patience were so unique and special. I have never known any other person so selfless, so willing to do for others, and yet doing so without drawing attention to herself. In her quiet way she lifted those around her seemingly with every moment of her life to her dying day.
We tend to judge success with such awful, materialistic criteria these days. You can’t judge success by the type of car you own or the amount of money you make. True success is measured by how much better you leave the world and the positive impact you have on the lives of others. By that standard Grandma is probably the most successful person I’ve ever known, and it will be hard to face life without her.