I thought I'd list some of the things that I really loved about her:
- Her laugh was kind of ridiculous. When she really got going you could hear her from a mile away.
- She cried at everything... except my wedding. She surprised my husband and I at our wedding with a video collage of childhood pictures. She said she got all her crying out of the way while she worked on the collage so she wouldn't have to shed any tears on our happy wedding day.
- She had a very active imagination. She made up silly stories for my siblings and I when we were young involving elaborate characters and adventures.
- She loved to scrapbook (and I don't). She surprised my husband and I on our one year wedding anniversary with a scrapbook of our wedding day. I love this book - it's full of her personal touches (pictures she took, insights she had, funny stories). This would be the first thing I would grab if our house ever started on fire.
- She always sang to herself as she putzed around the house.
- Her dog voice - She pretended to speak for the dog and used a special voice whenever the dog wanted to "say" something.
- Her filing system - I recently discovered that she had a file of information for each of her children and grandchildren. She kept old artwork, piano recital programs, newspaper clippings... the usual mom keepsakes. I was really touched when I noticed that she printed and filed every email that I wrote to her during my semester abroad in Ireland. I have long since deleted all that correspondence but she recognized that it was an important moment in my life and I should have a copy of it. What an awesome gift!
- She had a mischievous and goofy sense of humor. As a child I thought she was hilarious... as a teenager I thought she was embarrassing (stupid teen angst!)
- Her relationship with Santa's elves - she loved Christmas and spent the whole year looking for stocking stuffers for all us (including my siblings and I, our spouses, grandkids and family pets). There were so many stockings to fill that she made a deal with Santa's elves - they could come collect the stockings a week early to give Santa time to fill them. She started this tradition when I was a child in order to give herself more time on Christmas Eve. I thought it was so magical when the stockings suddenly disappeared... it definitely intensified my excitement for Christmas morning.
- She was an amazing grandma. Not only did she spoil the kids with gifts, she also showered them with attention. I've seen a lot of grandparents try to win their grandkids affection with gifts - she earned the love of my nieces and nephews by being a huge part of their lives.
- She wasn't afraid to try anything new. As a middle-aged woman she decided to start taking piano and harp lessons, because it was something she had always wanted to do. She also loved trying new foods... I don't think I ever saw her turn anything down. She and my dad traveled quite a bit and she loved talking about the foods they encountered.
- The long talks we had. We would sit and talk forever about anything and everything. I think it drove my dad crazy because he wanted to be "in" on whatever we were talking about (because he's a nosy kind of guy) but whenever he stuck his nose in the room we would say we were talking about "girl stuff" and he would hightail it out of there. Heaven forbid he overhear something about my period or see us crying about something emotional!
- Her big bear hugs. She would totally envelope you and you could feel all her love pouring into you.
- She was a nurturer and she loved to help things grow - this pertained to both children and plants. When she wasn't busy mothering us she loved to unwind in the garden.
I could probably go on and on. She was the kindest woman I have ever known and I'm so proud to say that I am her daughter. Today is difficult as I think about how suddenly she was taken from us. I wasn't ready to see her go! Both of my grandmas lived well into their 90's so I guess I always assumed that my mom would live a long life.
Shortly after her death I tried to console myself with a bit of retail therapy. I went to her favorite store and purchased a wall hanging that contained a quote by Abraham Lincoln - "It's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years." So true - my mom didn't live an overly long life but she certainly packed a lot of life into her years.