My precious mom went to Heaven late last month. She would have turned 84 next month. I wanted to post a tribute to her on today’s blog, but despite the surprising lightheartedness I feel thinking of my mom whole and happy in Heaven, our loss is still too fresh. I’m still having a little trouble imagining a world without my mom in it…and for once, words fail me. Instead, I’d like to share the tribute my oldest daughter wrote and shared at my mom’s memorial service. Tobi’s words are such a perfect tribute to a wife, mom, grammy, and great-grammy who loved her family more selflessly than anyone I’ve ever known.
GRAMMY by Tobi Raney Layton
Last night, I fell asleep watching TV. When I woke up, before I shook the hubs and stumbled into bed, I checked my e-mail one last time. “Grammy passed away…” I could read before I even opened it. I smiled, breathed a sigh of relief and went to bed.
Grammy kept us on high alert for quite awhile before she finally left this world. My mom and her siblings were called in to say their final goodbyes over a week ago. They sat around her with Gramps and waited for her final breath. They would end up waiting for days. During this time, Grammy slept peacefully, with no feeding tube or IV to prolong her life. She had lived her good, long, life, and she was ready to go. For some reason, though, God wasn’t quite ready for her. He held her body up for nine days before her appointed day came. Why? I’m not sure we’ll ever know. Maybe it was so that Gramps and his kids could have hours of time together—“supernaturally sweet,” as my mom called it. Maybe someone needed that precious time to get used to the hard truth that life on this earth is temporary. Maybe it was so my cousin could make it home from Thailand and see Grammy one more time. Maybe someone’s heart will be in just the right place to receive Jesus on the day of Grammy’s funeral. Maybe some hospice nurse needed to see what dying is like for Christians—joy!
I remember when I was in elementary school telling a teacher, “My grandparents are so young! They don’t even have to wear glasses yet!” I was proud of the fact that I had four living grandparents, and almost all my great-grandparents, too. I remember thinking my young Grammy was so cool when she grabbed a rolling pin and acted like she was going to beat Gramps with it. All the girl cousins rushed to Gramps’s defense. It was an uncharacteristic moment of orneriness. I could identify with ornery!
I loved to see what Grammy was working on in her sewing room—a beautiful quilt, painstakingly arranged, a dress up or doll’s outfit, or bags for little girls at the orphanage in Haiti that was so near and dear to her heart. I spent hours digging through Grammy’s button tins, looking for my favorite ones over and over. And Grammy wasn’t just a whiz in the sewing room. She could cook, too! Texas straw hats and poppy seed bread were my favorite. A few times, I got to help her take meals to Gramps’s harvest crew. I remember the big orange cooler of lemonade sitting on the tailgate next to a full meal she’d “whipped up” for the hungry farmers. Grammy loved to show us pictures in her intricately labeled photo albums. Every page had a story. Many of those stories were about God’s love. Grammy’s faith was deep and it overflowed into everything she did and said.
When I got older and went away to college, I saw Grammy only a few times a year. But I remember being proud to tell her all about school and, later, introduce her to my boyfriend. And a few years after the boyfriend became the husband, oh, it was fun to introduce our babies to their Great-Grammy. She loved babies! And she loved telling stories about her babies, especially my mom. Grammy and Gramps made a few trips out to Missouri. My sister and I lived near the town where they had lived early in their marriage. Now a young married woman myself, I loved hearing about their early life as a couple and seeing pictures of the two. I thought Gramps was so handsome and Grammy, so elegant!
I was really honored when Grammy and Gramps made another trip to Missouri just to see the home and land that Ryan and I had bought. It was quite a drive, and Grammy had broken her hip recently and was walking with a cane. That was the first time I remember thinking that Grammy was getting old. She even wore glasses!
The years passed on and time did what it does in this fallen world. Grammy’s body slowly started failing her. I remember when she let my sisters and I raid her fabric closet. Then I noticed her gnarled hands, no longer able to sew. It was a sad reality that she turned into a blessing for us girls. Her ears failed her, too. She didn’t always hear us, but she had a pleasant expression on her face and piped in with witty comments when she did catch a piece of the conversation. A few more years and there was less and less that Grammy could do, but she always stayed pleasant and witty. My mom shared stories of the cute things Grammy said, “I love you back—and your front and your sides, too!” The last time I saw Grammy was at Christmas. I had a feeling it might be goodbye. She was sweet and kind, but it also made me a little sad to see her looking so old and broken.
So, when I heard she had passed, I smiled. Grammy isn’t broken any more. She’s whole! She doesn’t need a wheelchair or a cane—she’s walking in heaven! And she’s not lonely or “out of it”…she is reunited with her daughter Kim, holding her miscarried grandbabies, and catching up with old friends and family. She can hear, and she hears the voice of her Savior. Those gnarled hands are straight again, and they’re praising Jesus!
I’ve cried some tears, and I’ll cry some more—I am part Teeter girl, after all—but I’m not crying for Grammy. The day Grammy died was the happiest day of her life!