A Letter to My Grandma

Last week was one of those very unexpected hard, hard weeks.  My 99 year-old grandmother passed away.  This woman was much more than just a grandma to me. She is one of the woman that has most inspired me to strive to be a woman of grace, kindness, and poise.  This past week I have been flooded with all my fondest memories of her.  While unfortunately a lot of them take place ten plus years ago, I am so thankful for her last years that I got to visit her in her nursing home.  Some of those last memories I have of her, while she no longer was quite as talkative or energetic, are still some of my fondest.  While not much went on and not much was spoken, I now treasure those last raw moments we had together on her bed, holding hands, and her telling me to “run along now…Lance is waiting for you.”  She was always so concerned with me getting home to him.  This was just who she was.  My heart aches.  I already miss her so much.  While I wish I could of written this letter prior to her passing, I wanted to share this letter in memory of my grandma (May 9, 1919 – October 24, 2018).

Dear Grandma,

Remember that night I called you to pick me up because my sister was sick and I wanted to be out of the house? I remember that night so clearly.  I think I was probably just 7 or 8 years-old.  I can still see you pulling up in front of our house to pick me up.  To me, you have always been such a place of comfort and happiness.  I loved our evening together.  I remember driving to the Ralph’s to get popsicles.  I remember sleeping with you in your bed.  While I don’t remember this, I am sure you made eggs, bacon, sourdough toast, and half a grapefruit with a cherry on top for breakfast.  I love sourdough and grapefruits because of you.  Honestly, I don’t even particularly love the bitterness of grapefruit, but it is one of my favorite morning fruits because it reminds me of you.  Grapefruits now are much more than a pink, bitter fruit.  Grapefruits are happiness.  Grapefruits are peace. Grapefruits are fun (especially with a cherry on top).

I hope you know how much I love you.  As a little girl, I adored you.  As a young woman, I admire you.  I admire your strength.  You are one of the strongest woman I know.  Not everyone can make it 99 years.  I know that is a long time, and I know those latter years were probably not your favorite, but you endured.  You held on and even in the harder last days, you laughed and you loved. You even met your first great-grandson, Hudson.  I was so touched by the amount of gratitude you demonstrated in being able to meet him.  You just kept repeating his name, and stated how lucky you were.  We are the lucky ones.  We have been so blessed by your life, grandma.  You have taken such good care of all of us, and continue to do so as Lance, Hudson and I live in your house.  Now that you have passed, in some ways it has been hard living in your old house.  However, I am also thankful for it.  I am daily reminded of you as I look out the kitchen window and see the purple flowers (purple was one thing we always had in common).  I smile as I play with Hudson and Nala in the side yard and think about you chasing after me as a little girl.  I feel your presence as I prepare dinner for our family in the kitchen using the very same rice cooker you used to make so many delicious meals for all of us.  While at times, my heart feels so heavy as I look at all the things that remind me of you, my heart also feels so much gratitude for your life, for the fact that I had 24 years with you, and for everything you have done for our family.

Not only do I admire your strength, I admire all the skills and talents you possessed.  You were so incredibly gifted. While it has been years, dinners at your house were always my favorite. I loved all the Japanese flavors you always incorporated.  There was something about the food you made.  Even something as simple as eggs, it always seemed to taste better coming from your kitchen.  I can still remember picnics we had with you and grandpa.  You would make a certain type of chicken. It was the most delicious chicken. These memories now are faint because these picnics were about 20 years ago, but I loved them.  I loved being with both you and grandpa and I loved that chicken you made.  Besides your food, you also made beautiful blankets.  I think your knitting largely helped keep your brain so sharp.  When I packed for college, I can remember one of the few things I packed that I felt like I needed was the beige knitted blanket you made me.  This might have been one of the last things you knitted.  It was around my sophomore year that I decided I wanted to learn to knit.  At the time I did not make the connection, but reflecting back, I am certain this was because of you.  I was only able  to make a knitted rectangle, but I hope to one day pick it up again and make blankets just like you.

Of all that you taught me, the piece that sticks with me most is the way in which you loved.  You loved with such an open heart.  You loved your family, your friends, the Dodgers, playing cards, the color purple, and hummingbirds.  You loved everyone in your life so well, and you were loved so incredibly much.  I think back to the day you picked me up when I could not stand to be in the house because my sister was sick.  I think that memory is so imprinted in my head because it captures the abundant love you had for me and the equally abundant love I had for you.  This love will never stop. I will forever love you, grandma. Thank you for everything.

P.S. I cannot wait to show Hudson the pictures of you and him, and tell him about his amazing great-grandmother.

Love Your Granddaughter,

Kelli

Stronger Shoulders

This mama needs stronger shoulders.  I actually could really use a whole new pair.  While this may seem like a strange connection, this week my shoulder pain is further revealing my need for God’s grace in my life.  I like to think of myself as relatively strong.  I have always been pretty good at dealing with pain.  I could always push through a hard workout on the track.  I even feel like I handled myself relatively well with the pains of contractions.  All that strength I thought I had has been shaken as I have stepped into motherhood.  Who would of thought that a 15-pound baby could cause such strain on my shoulders?  I did not seem to notice it when he was 7, 8, 9 pounds, but this week as I rock my baby to sleep (yes, I know this is a bad habit but he is sick and needed this), I have been overcome with pain in my shoulders.  They are strained, tired, burnt out.  Yesterday, after nearly an hour of rocking and hushing Hudson, I felt like my shoulders were about to explode.  In the whole scheme of things, this is a pain I can handle, but it has been my physical reminder this week that I am so incredibly limited.  I sometimes live my life like I am superhuman and can do all things.  I can wake up early, go on a run, squeeze in a yoga class, nurse Hudson throughout the day, clean the house spotlessly, walk the dog, entertain both the dog and Hudson, go out and create fun new experiences for Hudson, socialize and meet new mom friends, meal plan, grocery shop, manage bills and supplies in our home, be a loving and supportive wife and make delicious and healthy meals each night.  Just writing out that list stressed me out.  While I love this image of myself as a super, unstoppable human.  I am not. Not even close.  But, we have a super, unstoppable God. And this is enough. Actually, it is more than enough.  All this to say that my shoulders are hurting this week.  They are tired. I am tired.  I am limited.  I get worn out from just holding a 15-pound baby throughout the day!  Our God is stronger. Much stronger. Not only does He hold us.  He holds all of our needs.  He knows what we need and he so graciously satisfies those needs.  While I don’t think He will give me new shoulders, He already has given me a loving husband that massages these tired shoulders.  More than that, He gives me gentle whispers that I am loved and I am enough even when I feel so inadequate as Hudson continues to cry and my shoulders shake in weakness.

This Mama Needs

This mama needs a lot of things. Coffee, patience, rest, gratitude, exercise, time. Amongst those things, the first and most important is Jesus and His abundant grace. I need His new mercies every. single. day.  Actually, I need them every single moment. Becoming a mom has shown me a lot about the current state of my heart.  It has shown me I am more selfish than I realized. That I have way less patience than I thought.  And it has ultimately shown me the really ugly parts of my heart that I have not needed to deal with for a while.  Becoming a mother has shown my deep insecurities.  It has revealed a heart that is so attached to the approval of humans. It has shown how uncomfortable I am at getting out of comfort zones.  It has shown me my longing at being perfect for my own self glory. Before Hudson, I could much better pretend that I had things together.  Now I have a 4-month old that is not intuned to my ever present needs to be perceived as perfect.  I have lost all control and through this loss I am left with a heart that is full of anxiety, stress, and insecurity.  This mama is tired. This mama is burnt out at trying to be perfect. This mama needs grace.

I feel so overwhelmed with this new role of motherhood.  While I also have a new type of joy I have never felt before, I also am living through a season where my needs are outweighing my haves.  Thankfully I only need one have: Jesus.  And I already have Him.  He has me.  And while I have a mighty long list of needs, I can rest in the knowledge that Jesus knows each of my needs and His love for me remains constant. My prayer is through this blog of grappling through my own ever-present need for Jesus’ abundant grace, that you too can remember that even when it feels like you have nothing together, that God loves you with a crazy love and He showers you with grace in all of your imperfections.