Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Grandmother Putney

Toward the end of last month Jason and I drove his parents to the airport to fly down to Florida. After a fall, Jason's grandmother was having trouble recovering. We spoke to her on the phone Thursday evening before leaving his parents at the airport. Three days later she passed away. Two weeks later... there is still shock and deep sadness. 

Grandmother Putney is pictured here in blue.
At her funeral, Jason shared some words and sweet memories of his grandmother. From Jason's words that day:

If Grandmother Putney were here to witness our final gathering of celebration and remembrance of her life, there are some things I’d like for her to know:

  1. I’d want her to know my childhood and teen years are scattered with great memories of Christmas’ at the beach of south Florida - the richness of memories at her and Grandpa’s Ft. Lauderdale home...even swimming on Christmas’ day. The smell of the ocean as we made the long drive every several years. Pumpernickel bread with milk for a bed time snack.
  1. I’d want her to know I still remember the sleepovers in my parents basement when she and Grandpa would come visit before their house was built on Sycamore street....then sleepovers there that often ended with wheat pancakes and real maple syrup on Saturday morning.
  1. I’d want her to know the richness I feel that she lived to see the third generation...her daughter’s --> son’s --> son. Kelley and I treasure the three years Levi was blessed to know his maternal great-grandmother. The simplicity of watching grandmother get out the very same Lincoln logs and Tinker toys that I played with as a boy is such a rich memory. I recognize not many children are given this gift of knowing their great-grandmother. Levi was and we will forever treasure that.
  1. I’d want her to know the tremendous impact her modeling 65 years of commitment, consistency and love in marriage to Grandpa has had on the generations that have followed and on Kelley and I...we are about 1/8 of the way there in years. God is so honored in such a marriage. What a legacy of faithfulness.
  1. Speaking of legacy - I’d want her to stop and consider the generations who have come behind her: her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. We are all walking with the Lord in large part because of the cornerstone of Jesus she and Grandpa built their marriage and home upon...and the baton of faith she and Grandpa have passed on.
  1. I’d want her to know that we are all shocked how fast she went...it doesn’t seem real even now...but we are so grateful she had health and freedom to fully enjoy life essentially all the way to the very end. What a gift that was to share richness of life with Grandpa to age 88.
  1. I’d want her to know I will greatly miss her hospitality. I will treasure the countless memories of evenings at Grandma and Grandpa’s house where she would bring out nuts, cookies, snacks and drinks...oftentimes directly after a family meal at Western Sizzlin. Sometimes we would say, “Grandma, we just came from eating...” Those times of fellowship will continue, but we will miss her greatly.
  1. I’d want her to know she is responsible for instilling the love of the puzzle in our family...though I don’t know that it fully took in me. All the way back to my childhood I can’t remember a time where an in-process puzzle wasn’t set out on the table at Grandmother’s house. I’d tell her I still have the puzzle of the Grand Teton’s that she finished for me and had mounted to hang on the wall in our home.
  1. I’d want her to know I’m fascinated that she lived in a generation that likely saw more overall change of lifestyle than any other generation in our world’s history. What a ride it must have been: born in the 1920’s, having the great depression attached to childhood memories, experiencing World War II, seeing the widespread movement of electricity, vehicles, interstate systems, air travel, an incredible amount of culture shifts within our country, the civil rights days, ....all the way down to the cell phone and internet revolution and technology explosion. What an amazing amount of change Grandma saw...even the story told through the pictures of her and Grandpa down through the years we are able to enjoy this day. What steadfastness, flexibility and grace it required to live those 88 years she did.
  1. I’d want her to know I recognize and appreciate that she never let a birthday or even a holiday pass without acknowledgment through a card and/or a gift. That’s A LOT of cards and gifts over the years for three children and seven grandchildren. Speaking of that: I could always count on Grandmother Ruth to have a story of an unbeatable sale from Macy’s, Belk or JCPenney to go along with the new polo shirts. Grandma never did disguise those gift boxes very well. :)  Seriously, I realize Grandmother’s intentionality in expressing love on birthdays and holidays as well as anyone in my life.
  1. I’d want her to know that while I’m speaking of clothes, I know she’d be very impressed that I’m wearing a suit and tie on this day we remember her.
  1. I’d want her to know that I realize I’m among a minority of people I know who had the privilege of knowing my maternal grandmother until I was almost 30. I am very aware of how blessed I am in that regard.
  1. Grandpa, I want you to know that you have my utmost respect and admiration for faithfully walking with Grandmother all the days of her life...for finishing those final days in the hospital and rehab with just as much commitment, steadfastness and love as you started your days together in 1948. From a grandson looking on you certainly modeled how to live beside Grandmother in faithfulness and without regret until her very last day, though that came much more quickly than any of us expected. We love you Grandpa.

Finally, if Grandma were here I would want her to know that we all gather to remember her convinced that:

Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers...neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord... (Romans 8:38-39)

So I can say with confidence that though we grieve deeply for her, we do not have to grieve as those who do not have hope (1 Thess 4:13). 

One of the scriptures passed along from Aunt Dawn that greatly encouraged Grandmother in her last days is found in Isaiah 46:4:

I will be your God throughout your lifetime - until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you.

Praise God for his promises that are always true, for the reality of Heaven and for the great comforter who doesn't leave us. We will continually remember Grandmother Putney missing her deeply and celebrating her life well lived. 

1 comment:

Martin LaBar said...

That's a great tribute.