Surrounded by family from near and far we sang her favorite hymns, listened to scriptures she had hand selected for this day and remembered Grandma Gard just as she had asked us to. We came together saddened but also with the knowledge that she was fully at peace in Jesus’ presence- allowing us also to be silly. Her love for Him was evident in her daily life and in the way she chose to spend her days- genuinely loving people. She had so many friends that were more like family- It seemed that everyone had been touched by her life in major ways, they shared story after story of her gentle thoughtful ways. I wish she would have known the immense way that she touched others’ lives. She had that way with people- I believe it’s a character that is engraved in every member of Josh’s family. A legacy of loving people.
From the moment I met Josh his family became my own. Not growing up with grandparents his grandparents lovingly filled those areas in my life that I never knew were empty and longing to be filled. Georgia Gard became “grandma Gard” to me. Whenever I would introduce her to people I would have to remember that she wasn’t “grandma” to everyone and that she actually had a first name! For me she was simply my grandma. Not really experiencing the love of a grandparent Josh’s grandparents showed me what that felt like for the first time in my life. I’ve never experienced the loss of a loved one before either so loosing grandma has taught me a lot as well. I was deeply blessed by grandma and her unconditional love towards me. That kind of love that forgives and is constant, always seeing the best in you.
Grandma Gard was gracious and forgiving. She was kind and never spoke ill of others- seriously, I don’t think I ever hard her say anything hurtful of others. Not one. She was caring and intentional about showing you that you were loved. When Jesse was born she would drive an hour to my home and iron our clothes. Knowing I was struggling with a newborn she would bring dinner and then tell me “I am your ironing grandma!” and she would set about to conquer my huge pile of laundry, with a smile on her face the entire time. That’s the thing about Grandma, her life’s joy was to be with people, nurturing deep relationships with her time. I realize I didn’t appreciate that as I should have. I thought this was a gift of grandma’s that was unique to her generation. I’ve learned it’s more of a discipline that requires time. Much time. To know and to give and to sit with people-to carve out the time is simply something we look at as a luxury. I can’t count the many times I told her I was too busy with work, with ministry, with life….. only to regret that I didn’t give her enough of my time. We walk around life as if it’s about work and our packed schedules and our duties that we’ve pilled sky high. Only to learn what is truly of ultimate importance. It’s surely not about work.
Grandma taught me that. She taught my kids about Roy Rogers. And Wall Drug. About planting flowers in the spring and setting a presentable table- About presenting anything nicely – even if it was a store bought dessert you could make it look like it was something you worked long hours for! ;) She taught us that relationships take work but worth every hard effort.
Yesterday as we were going through some of her things we ran across two digital cameras. The back story is that for as long as I knew grandma she carried around Kodak disposable cameras. She would wind and push the shutter. Sometimes forgetting to get the flash ready and she would have to do it all over again, wind, push the shutter, repeat. One Christmas Josh and I decided to wrap her first digital camera. Turns out that same year my brother and sister-in-law also gifted her the same thing…. grandma from that day forward would keep the cameras separated. When she was with Josh, the kids and I she would bring the silver camera we gifted her. When she was with my brother and sister-in-law she would pack around the red one they gifted her. She put that much effort into everything….. we thought she worried too much and even made a fuss about things but you know, this was simply her way of making sure you felt loved and appreciated. I keep laughing at the thought that she had to learn (at 80+ years mind you) two digital systems, had to keep track of who would be at which family event and carefully try to avoid us knowing about the “other camera” for several years. Oh grandma…. you were lovely! You showed me that love takes effort and time. You taught me to prioritize people first. Learning to make the time. I am saddened I didn’t learn this when I had the opportunity to be with you more. I hope you would be proud of my trying now. How I wish you could have seen the impact your life had on many of us- and here you said you lived a “simple” life. You touched us forever and for that we are thankful. I am saddened and do have regrets but I also know of grace and the reality that this is not the end of the story. For that I am thankful and I look forward to our union again.
It’s interesting how all around the days continue as if nothing has happened and yet everything feels changed. Evident of how grandma touched our lives. I move forward pursuing to live that “Gard” legacy. One day I hope my grandkids will look back just as fondly when I become “grandma Gard”. Those are big shoes she left to fill, but I also realize that the way in which she lived her life was not by her own strength. She relied heavily on God’s grace and his sanctifying work in her life. We move forward in the same way. Knowing HE will complete the work he begun. Yes, we might fall and yet he will continue to work as we work out my salvation in anticipation of seeing Him face to face one day. And what a lovely day that will be!