To Know & Love Your Grandma

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Keert and Grandma Hale putting a puzzle together

Growing up in a rural community near a small ranching and farming town, I would know all of my grandparents and they would be an extension of my parents. During busy high school sport seasons, I would live during the week with Dad’s parents.

Too many birthday’s to count would be spent at Mom’s Moms house. All the cousins would gather when they came from out of town for a visit. We would have huge dinners, celebrations of Christmas and whenever my parents had an evening event, we would stay with Grandma Hale (or at her house when we were mostly old enough.)

She would accompany me to Little Britches rodeos with our big camper and trailer. She would cheer me on while completing a crossword. We lived on her ranch, that of her Mothers. She would help with branding dinners, chicken plucking, gardening and canning.

She was cool, practical, wise, funny. I respected her. I trusted her. I loved her very much.

This evening Grandma Hale left us on this Earth. Her two daughters, a son-in-law, a grandson, and a great granddaughter would be beside her as they said goodbye.

Selfishly we are so grateful to have seen her just two weeks prior. To have shared in stories about the past, issues of the day over steak and fajita dinners. To engage in learning about the new Kindle Fire and debates about whether anyone in the family had been cremated, not knowing the decision would be faced so soon. To have laughed together one last time.

I realize now how truly wonderful it is to have had such an example from my Grandma. That at 96 she would outlive my Mother and would contribute to the better part of my life.

Her obituary is here.

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Mom’s Mom

imageMy Mom’s Mom, Wilma Lorraine Gwendolyn Waddill Hale is dying. She has decided everything in her life, except the many losses. She would become a widow in her 20’s with three young girls to raise on her Mom’s ranch. Not her decision to leave business school with her new husband that the ranch would take from her so soon. She would lose her Mom and her daughter, my Mom, both to surgical complication. She would not remarry. She would take a business job in town, raise her girls well and become a fixture in her community that included bridge club, Eastern Star and Legion Club dances. She might be sad, but never bitter. She would empower, encourage and challenge all of her grandchildren.

We just celebrated her birthday in Montana with pre-dinner piano playing (by her), prime rib and angel food cake.

The next day she would fall in the bathroom. This her second fall in a week. She would command to her youngest, “this is enough… I don’t want to fight this.” With all of the Irish stubbornness saved for the last hours, she awoke this morning to greet my Aunt, “what now?”

She now faces death, the afterlife, with almost demanding demeanor, wishing for her own end of life at 96.

It is possible she fears being unable to be the independent, determined woman she has been for 35,049 days. To even imagine that someone would need to take care of her, push her around in a chair, is likely unfathomable. Maybe it isn’t fear at all but the decision to just bypass that phase of dependence.

I am confused by this expectation and determination. Is it possible to be done even if the body has time left? I cannot truly know or imagine what she may be feeling at this time.

Practicality under all circumstances would be her greatest example for me. Also, how do you know if you haven’t experienced it or tried it? This way of living was the antithesis of drama – it had no place and rarely had energy (for long.) She carried on her Mom’s strength of principle and would instill this in my Mom and she in me. A second-generation Irish ranch woman in Nebraska with a business degree from Colorado born on Flag Day in 1918.

There are so many fond memories of my Mom’s Mom but the most recent and most defining is her sitting with my husband taking notes as he helped her with her new Kindle Fire. Explaining ever so carefully how the ‘touch’ worked and differed from her first Kindle. All with her new red nails, her first ever manicure.

Gram I’m sorry you fell. That you feel tired. I admire your strength and determination. I want you to know we will miss you when you are not physically with us, whenever that will  be.