Sunday, February 24, 2013

Great-Grandma Estella

We have this plastic play food, the kind with a microscopic hole designed for mysterious unknown purposes.  This tiny hole is just large enough to let in spit and bathwater but not big enough to let it out.  So these play oranges and tin cans soon become disgusting petri dishes.  I’ve gotten rid of some of them, but I’m having a hard time letting go of the rest.  You see, they were given to Eden from her Great-Grandma Estella (Kasey’s Grandma), who has since passed away.  Well, not really even given from her, more like purchased by me on her behalf with her money.

Still life

But these impersonal, poor-quality toys have come to represent things that I want my kids to know and not forget:  the thoughtful and generous spirit of their Great-Grandma Estella.

Sometimes it’s hard to let go of things because of the immaterial meaning they bring to us.  And that’s okay, I think.  That’s a pretty good reason to keep something, as reasons go.  But in the case of the play food, it really needs to go.  So in the spirit of making the meaning permanent even if the toys aren’t, I’m going to write a little bit about Great-Grandma Estella for my kids to remember.

Dear kiddos,

Your Great-Grandma Estella loved kids.  Up through the last of her years, she was loving on kids, feeding them, and caring for them in her home, which was full of toys for kids of all ages.  Grandkids, nieces and nephews, and great-grandkids were always welcome.  She never said no to taking care of kids.  She loved holding you, Eden, when you were a baby.  Her fridge was always covered with the latest photos of the youngest generation in her family tree. 

Christmas 2008
She was a child of the depression.  She lived through days of scarcity and scraping-every-last-bit-of-butter-from-the-wrapper (and then save the wrapper because you could use it later to wrap something in).  She carried her saving mentality throughout her life, and was generous with her money and time.  She gave regularly to over a dozen charities and missionaries.  When a grandchild got married, she sent birthday money to the new spouse.  My check was something like $37.50, as the budgeted birthday money was divided by a bigger and bigger pool of relatives.    

She was sharp.  Toward the end of her life her hearing started to fade, but not if someone was talking about her in the other room.  I remember being part of a quiet sidebar conversation in the kitchen while she sat at the dining room table at the Parmelee’s house in Colorado.  She must have heard a snippet, because she made some remark about someone being a smartass that ended our conversation pretty quickly. 

She was faithful.  She believed strongly in God, went to church faithfully, listened to Christian radio constantly, and studied her Bible on her own.  Some of her letters to Kasey are as theologically rich as any sermon.

I knew her for just a fraction of her life, but she made a lasting impression.  She was a matriarch, caring for her family both near and far in many ways until the end of her earthly life.  She was a strong, independent, active woman who never stopped giving, living, and loving.  She accepted her family members as the messed up people that we all are, and never gave up on any of them. 

I wish that you would have had more years to know her and be loved by her.  I’m passing these memories along to you so that as you grow, you can see the legacy she left in the lives of her family, including you! 


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