My Grandma Chris passed away two weeks ago.
She lived in Columbus, so last Tuesday I travelled to Ohio to attend her funeral. The grandkids were invited to share a few words at the service if we felt compelled.
And because losing her feels like a gaping hole, I wanted desperately to say something, but felt like there’d be no way I could sum up how much she meant to me in a few words off the cuff.
I’m far from an orator. I’m a bumbling mess of splotchy hives when thrust into a spotlight. But writing’s my gig, and I feel a comfort in taking time to sort my thoughts into a paragraph. And so I leave the tribute I wish I could have said below.
There’s a saying.
It’s hard to forget someone who gave you so much to remember.
A few days after my grandma’s death, I was crying to Tony about how unreal it felt. Just a few weeks earlier she was liking my Facebook posts. She had just commented on my blog.
I confided in him that my heart hurt every time I tried to picture myself telling future grandchildren about her. Will she feel so real 40 years from now?
He said something that struck me. “That’s why people leave their legacy, Katie. So that they are known long after they are gone.”
I thought about his words for awhile. And later at her gravesite, when family members relayed memories about her life and the fondness for her character, it struck me how true his reminder was. She left an enormous impression on me and those she loved. Her story could never fade.
One day my children and grandchildren will hear all about this amazing woman who my brother and I spent weeks with during the summer. I’ll tell them how she was so proud of her grandchildren and saved every single news article and thank you note we sent.
They’ll know about her famous cookies, our trips with her and Grandpa Lep, the homemade ice cream, and the childhood art sessions.
I’ll use her as an example when I encourage them to blaze a path, citing what an incredibly talented artist she was and how she earned a Masters in Art Education during a time when women often had fewer roles available outside the home.
They will know her kindness. Because that sticks with me the most.
A few days after I returned from Columbus, I decided Fox needed to try Grandma’s cookie recipe. I was going to let him dump the flour, like she would have done. I’d also let him steal a few chocolate chips and lick the batter. Again, like Grandma.
As I was reaching above the refrigerator to get a paper plate, I grabbed a pack that hadn’t been opened yet. And as I brought them down, I noticed the pack, decorated with construction vehicles, was sent by Grandma Chris to Fox, with a note attached. She said she was thinking of him when she bought them and sending her love.
And represented by that little pack of paper plates was her legacy of love.