As child I didn’t know what to think of her. In comparison to my timidness, her larger than life personality left me awe struck. She was powerful and feisty and when she left everything felt renewed. I often wished she lived next door so she could breathe life into us on a daily basis instead of once a year.

When I purchased my first car I bridged the gap between home and Grandma’s house every month or two. While my friends partied on Friday nights I drove the 7 hrs to her back door. No matter what time of day it was she would be waiting for me with a smile that made me feel like there was no one else in the world she wanted to see more than me. I made the trip more when I was heartbroken or felt like my life was spinning. She grounded me and stitched my heart back together with baked chicken, half cooked eggs, and yard work. We laughed as we drove around town for fresh produce and by Sunday morning I felt ready to take on life again. She would stand in the driveway and wave until my car faded from view.

Marriage and the arrival of babies changed the amount of trips I made to Grandma’s house but not the need I had for her. I counted on her call every weekday at 4pm.  She assured me that every young couple starting out was as broke as we were and told me stories about her Sunday drives with my grandfather and mom. After she found out that I considered microwave popcorn dinner she called it disgraceful and mailed me recipes she carefully typed on her typewriter that were meant to feed a “working man”. When I realized how hard marriage was at times, she held me up or smacked me upside the head whichever the current situation called for. She told me that I had grit and I would be just fine no matter what life threw my way. And to not get distracted by what everyone else was doing because loving on my family was always the best way to spend my time.

When Holden was diagnosed with cancer she said one sentence, “This isn’t good, Dawn.” and then she canned tomatoes. She and Grandpa drove two and a half hours and left them on my doorstep when we were at the hospital. I shook my head at the sight of them and shoved them in the back of the pantry. It wasn’t until a year later when I was using that last jar of tomatoes that I broke into tears at the realization of what those tomatoes were. They were love. Those tomatoes were packed into those jars with a love so fierce it could move mountains and cross oceans but it couldn’t cure cancer and she knew it. So she did the only thing she could do. She canned tomatoes.

Thank you for pouring love into me Grandma, for being my anchor, making me feel treasured when I felt lost in the crowd, and that sleeping in good sheets will set the world right again. You are dearly loved and will be deeply missed.

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