Remembering a Family Member Lost


I’m really lucky that I’ve been blessed with incredible in-laws. My father-in-law (FIL) and mother-in-law (MIL) are awesome and my grams-in-law was too. Unfortunately grams passed away this past Thursday and we laid her to rest yesterday. I was inspired by many of the posts here last week about remembering loved ones and the importance of story telling so I want to tell you a little bit about someone who meant a lot to me and my husband.

Grams was a really fantastic lady. While I’m not her blood related granddaughter, she always treated me like I was. I remember the first time I met her. I was so nervous because it’s kind of a big deal to start meeting your partner’s extended family and I didn’t know what to expect. We pulled up to her house and when I opened the door, the first thing she said to me was “Oh my gosh you are BEAUTIFUL!” I was instantly captivated by her spunky personality and felt completely accepted by her.

Over the years I learned more and more about her. The house she lived in she actually built with her husband back in the ’50s. They painted the outside of their house pink, yes PINK, because it’s one of her favorite colors. Her kitchen is made up of pink wall tiles and even has an old pink rotary phone hanging. She worked at Colt and was proud to be a woman in manufacturing. In fact, Colt was so much a part of her identity that when she was buried yesterday, her Colt jacket with her name on it was included in her coffin.

She had sort of this interesting dichotomy of loving pink, pearls and getting her hair done combined with an absolute love of action movies, pizza and guns. She also really loved chocolate covered cherries and we’d bring her some for every holiday.

Grams did have more than her fair share of tragedy though – her husband died back in the early ’80s and one of her two sons passed away a few years ago. But she always moved forward with strength and enjoyed spending time with my FIL and MIL, and of course me, my husband and our daughter (her only great-grandchild). Every time she’d see our daughter, she always remarked that her eyes looked like beautiful big olives!

Grams meeting her great-granddaughter for the first time.
Grams meeting her great-granddaughter for the first time.

We spent almost every Christmas Eve over at her house and she was always very generous with the gifts she gave us. I looked forward to seeing her because she was so welcoming, kind and actually really darn funny with some of the stuff she would say.

She felt VERY strongly that a coaster must always be used and enforced that rule in her home fiercely. She also collected elephants, always with their trunks pointed up, because she said they’re good luck.

She was also a big supporter of mine when I was training for my first (and only) full marathon back in 2008. Every time we visited her, she’d tell me that she wondered if I was out running that morning (and she’d say this while moving her arms in a running motion). She really loved me like I was one of her own and I feel so lucky that she was part of my life.

It’s always hard to lose someone you love, even when you know they lived a good, long life. I’m so happy she was able to meet and be a part of my daughter’s life and I’m so glad that my husband has lots and lots of happy memories to carry with him. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that my FIL, her son, took incredible care of her these last few years as her health started to deteriorate. She loved him and absolutely adored him and I have deep respect for everything he did for her (like making the decision to keep her in her home instead of moving her to a nursing home).

After her funeral we headed over to her house to pick out a few elephants to take home to remember her by. When get got home, we told our daughter the elephants are a gift from her great-grandmother and she helped us put them on our mantel. This morning she said to me totally unprompted, “Great-grandma gave me these elephants because she’s really nice!” Yes, yes she was.

Excited about the elephants!
Excited about the elephants!

10 comments on “Remembering a Family Member Lost”

  1. This is such a beautiful tribute Michelle. What’s not to love about someone who declares you beautiful the first time they meet you! Keep those memories alive.

  2. Oh, this brought tears to my eyes. THANK YOU for sharing your grandmother-in-law with us ~ I think I would have just loved that pink-pizza-eatin’-spunky-chick! This was such a beautiful post and such a beautiful remembrance. I love every glimpse you give us into your life, Dear Sister. Wishing you and your family peace as you deal with missing her. ♥

  3. Such sweet memories to share. I’m sorry for your loss. L was lucky to have a relationship with Grams. I’m sure she’ll cherish the memories.

  4. This was so beautifully written, Michelle. I’m so sorry for your loss. You were very lucky to have her in your life (what an amazing woman she sounded like !!) and she was lucky to have you!

  5. What a beautiful post for a beautiful woman. Just reading this makes me wish I had met her. I hope that you, Dan, and his family will have peace during this difficult time. Sending my love your way.

    1. Thanks so much Sharlene. And yes, I have 26.2 under my belt – although 2008 feels like so long ago I’m not sure it still counts 🙂

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