Grandmother with granddaughter, smiling

My Last Mother’s Day with my Grandmother

My grandparents were farmers who survived the great depression and WWII while growing what they would eat. I’m very proud of the farming background that colored my childhood, and I was always so glad to tell my grandpa about exceeding 30,000 bales of hay one summer. They raised cattle, sheep, pigs, and thousands of Butterball turkeys on their acreage. So, a typical day with them involved gathering hundreds of turkey eggs, putting out feed, working cattle in the corrals, building a mending barbed-wire fence, and helping with the hay harvest.

After my stooped-shouldered grandfather was gone, my grandmother was alone on the farm, and I loved making trips to see her and help her with the remaining chores. But year after year, I also saw the residual effect of such hard work on my sweet “Nana.” Eventually, her body weakened, and she could no longer stay in the farmhouse, so she moved to assisted living and then to a skilled nursing facility. My sister and I often tag-teamed for Mother’s Day visits. We both grew roses in our gardens so she would have multiple bouquets on Mother’s Day weekend–and she loved flowers!

Usually, that involved a lunch outing. I would help her into HER car during the early years, but when her car was gone, I helped her into mine. She was so light I could lift her into the seat. But as she grew weaker, specifically the last time I took her to lunch, it became too much. I remember our last one like it was yesterday. She had very little strength, and her frailty made it impossible for me to help her into the car, even if I lifted her. 93 years of bone-stressing labor made her too frail. When we returned to her room, she was shocked to see two bouquets of roses–the roses that I had just delivered a few minutes earlier before we attempted to go to lunch.

She lived a decade after my mom died, so the affection of her relationship became more important to me during those years. After I conducted her funeral, I drove out to the house one more time–a kid reliving decades of memories. She was kind, a woman of faith who loved her family well. Balcony person, disciplinarian, pie-chef, farm laborer, and interested conversationalist, she was one of a kind. And I will always be grateful for her legacy to me and my family.

I’ll be thinking of her this year on Mother’s Day. If you are reading this as a mom, grandmom, or surrogate who has adopted many “grands” into your life, know this: your legacy of love is precious to your kids and to your Father in Heaven.

Happy Mother’s Day.

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