Today marks six months since my grandmother passed away. I wanted to share on here the same thing that I shared at her memorial service. I miss her so much!
I've known since I was young how blessed I was to have grandparents nearby that I got to see often. A lot of my friends' grandparents lived far away, and I have always been so glad to have mine near. Both of my grandfathers passed away when I was little, so I've become very close to my two grandmothers. Having the two of them is something that I'll be thankful for for the rest of my life.
My Grandma Burroughs has left this Earth, but not without leaving an impact on many lives. I can't speak for others, but I can say what she has done for me. All of my life, I've seen her at least once a week for the most part. During the summers, she would usually watch me and my brother the week after we got out of school. We would take walks around her neighborhood, go to the Farmer's Market, eat lunch at Arby's, and watch Dr. Quinn, old western shows, cartoons, and other TV shows. Grandma also loved to go to Big Lots, so we went there often. Even up until early this year, I was taking her to Big Lots. One thing we really enjoyed was making brownies. Grandma would let us lick the batter off the bowls and spoons while the brownies cooked. Now that I’ve learned to make brownies by myself, I think of those times. We also played the card game UNO a whole lot. And Grandma always had popsicles for us in her freezer.
One thing I always loved about Grandma is how old-fashioned she could be. Her house is filled with antiques, so from a young age I felt like I was traveling back in time when I went to her house. I think it really helped me to have an appreciation for the people who lived before us and the experiences that they had. Grandma always told me stories about when she was young, and how she went to a tiny school in Virginia, and how she lived on a farm when she was little. When Michael and I played charades with her, it was always hard for us to figure out what she was doing because it was usually something that had to do with farm work or sewing or lighting an oil lamp. I read books a lot at her house, and Grandma always told me how fortunate I was to have good lamps to read by because all she had when she lived on the farm were oil lamps, and it had hurt her vision.
One of my first memories of Grandma is having "tea parties" in the living room with her. I have a porcelain tea set that I've kept at her house, and we would fill the little cups with Sprite and eat crackers and Chee-tos off the tiny plates. Just about every time I went over there, I'd ask if we could have a tea party. And if I remember correctly, the stuffed animals were usually invited too. She also kept her candy bowls and antique butter dishes full of Snickers because they were my favorite. I would go to her house and eat Snickers til I felt sick.
Grandma has LOTS of jewelry, clothes, and shoes, and another thing I liked to do was go in the back room and go through her jewelry drawers and try all the jewelry on. Her earrings were perfect because they were all clip-ons and I didn't have my ears pierced either. I would wear the jewelry until it was time to leave, and then put her on the spot by asking if I could keep what I had on. She would sometimes say yes!
That reminds me of another thing about Grandma. She always made sure to look her best, no matter where she was going. She always had the shoes, pocketbooks, and jewelry to match every outfit. And she never left the house without her lipstick on.
Holidays at Grandma's house were very special times. On holidays, we have always gone to Granny's house for lunch and Grandma's house for supper. Both are wonderful cooks. Grandma always made really great food on holidays. Her green beans and potatoes were probably the best I've ever had. One thing me and Michael usually did right before Christmas was decorate Grandma's little Christmas tree. She has beautiful old-fashioned ornaments and I remember that always being a very special time. In more recent years, Grandma would take me shopping before my birthday and Christmas to pick out what I wanted and spend extra time together. She also knew that red velvet cake was my favorite, and she even made one for my birthday last year, even though her health was starting to decline.
A lot of times, Grandma took me to my dance lessons, and when I was in eighth grade, she took me to my piano lesson every Thursday. Then afterward, we'd go to Arby's and eat and then go back to her house and watch TV til my mom picked me up.
Ever since I've been in college, I've spent a significant amount of time with Grandma. With a more flexible class schedule, we could go eat lunch, which we usually did one day a week. I never told my parents this, but sometimes I scheduled my classes so that I had at least one day free during the time that Grandma liked to eat lunch, which was around 11 or 12. We went to K&W, Rainbow, Panda Express, and Spiro's a lot. Spiro's became Grandma's favorite because of their flounder, so we went there a lot on Fridays until this past year, and last Saturday she asked me if we would get to go there again and get flounder, and it was really hard to hold back the tears. She was always SO grateful for and enjoyed the little things in life. That's one of the best qualities a person can have, and that's how I strive to be.
Also since I've been in college, Grandma and my dad and I have gone to eat at Lexington BBQ. Grandma would always ask me when I would be able to go back to Lexington BBQ, and we would go. And she always wanted to stop at the candy store and the Belk's in Lexington before we went home.
This past year, it's been really really hard to see Grandma in and out of the hospital, and eventually going to stay in a nursing home. She was always so independent, and was even driving her car until about this time last year. She was pretty active up until then, so it was really hard when all that stopped and she was bed-bound in the nursing home after she broke her hip in February. She had taken care of us our whole lives, so now it was our job to take care of her. Wherever she was, I went to see her almost every day because I knew that it would maybe make things a little less scary for her, and how hard it would be for her and how alone she must feel. Since she moved into the nursing home for good, me and Ashley and Zach went to see her a whole lot. I tried to go for at least 15 minutes every day. She would always thank me for coming, like I was doing her a favor, but in reality, I know that I benefitted just as much from the visits as she did. Over the past year, the experience has changed me as a person and helped me to see that life's not all about taking care of myself and making sure that I have fun and I'M happy. I have learned that making someone else's day will bring me more happiness than anything else I could do for myself.
But even in the nursing home, she always kept a good spirit. She would tell the nurses that she loved
them, especially her favorite, Denise.
Grandma's stuggle over the past year all came to a close this past week. This has defnitely been the hardest week of my life. I can't describe how it felt to watch her tiny body wither away and know that there was nothing I could do to help her. But one thing I did know was that that tiny body was something that she wouldn't need much longer. The most important thing that Grandma has done for me has been the fact that she has constantly talked to me about her faith and kept me accountable with mine. She is one of the Godliest people I've ever known, and even some of the last words I heard her say were glorifying the Lord, despite all of the trials she's had this past year. I was waiting to go in and see her on Saturday in Hospice, and I overheard her telling the doctor what wonderful grandchildren she had and how much she loved us and how she had tried to live her life to please the Lord, and that people had told her that they could tell she was a Christian by looking at her eyes. I wish I could've recorded that conversation. When I went in, she asked me, "You know what people have told me about how you can tell if someone loves the Lord? Through their EYES."
After that day, Grandma was asleep and couldn't talk to us, but the nurses said that she could hear what we were saying. Every day, I read to her out of her Bible. That's another thing - she had her Bible with her the whole time at the nursing home and then at Hospice. I read her the 23rd Psalm a lot over the past week:
The LORD is my Shepherd; I shall not want
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
He leadeth me beside the still waters
He restoreth my soul:
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death:
I will fear no evil; for Thou art with me
Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies
Thou anointest my head with oil;
My cup runneth over
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever
I told Grandma that soon she would be in Heaven and she would get to see Grandpa, her parents, and her little baby girl that she never got to take care of because she died in infancy.
The whole week was cloudy & rainy, but right after Grandma left this Earth, giant rays of sunshine came pouring down from Heaven, announcing her home-coming. I can't even imagine how wonderful it was for her to finally meet her Maker. And it may or may not be symbolic, but it also happened to be the last day of summer when she left this Earth.
Of course, it's been hard for me, because now, there is a hole in my life that hasn't been there before. There's a void that is inevitable. As I’ve gotten pictures together for the slideshow that they showed last night, I’ve been able to really see and appreciate what a full and wonderful life Grandma has had. I have seen those pictures countless times when I would go through her picture albums before, but this time they had a different meaning. She would’ve been 90 years old in a couple weeks. She saw a lot over those 90 years. She raised a wonderful son who would grow up to be a wonderful father to Michael, Ashley and me. She taught us all wonderful Christian values. She loved us all very much, and she was always so dedicated to her family. She loved her friends, too. She talked to them all on a regular basis and kept in touch with them over the years and they knew how much she cared about them.
I know I'll meet up with my Grandma again one day in Heaven. I know it's going to be more
wonderful than I can even imagine. But until then, in the words of John Hartford, she'll be "waving
from the backroads, by the rivers of my memory, ever-smiling, ever gentle on my mind."