Saturday, November 8, 2014

In Memory

I sit here on my side of the world, with the air conditioning on and the humid tropical air waiting to greet me the moment I step outside. Normally, this is comforting. This is home. But for this moment, I sincerely wish to be on the other side of the world, in the home where I was raised. My grandma passed away this week, and this is one of those times when it is the most difficult to be away from the home where I grew up. Where I am is where I know I need to be, and yet I've struggled for the last couple of days to keep my heart here and my head focused on what I'm doing.

In lieu of being able to attend Grandma’s funeral this weekend, I would like to spend this post honoring her memory. To my family: I know I won't be there to reminisce and recall all of these times in conversation with you as we remember Grandma's life, but I hope that you will allow the comments here to be my comments in those conversations (because I know you will have them!).

The first memory I have of my grandma is one of my very first memories (I think) - it's a little hazy, and I actually question whether its a real memory or not! I remember getting up one morning when I was four years old and seeing my Grandma instead of my mom or dad. She told me that I had a baby brother and that I would get to meet him very soon.

I remember staying at Grandma's house when I was little. I spent a lot of time playing with all the cool toys that Grandpa had made, but my favorite part was when Grandma made me a snack. She'd pull out these bad boys:

and I would spend the next little while enjoying every single crumb as I ate around each cookie that was stuck on my finger. I also got a glass of milk in one of those little clear blue plastic cups. At some point I graduated and was allowed to drink from the adult-sized clear blue plastic cup, and I was so proud!

When I was in 8th grade, my homeroom teacher decided that we would play a Bible trivia game when our grandparents all came to visit. I was super excited about this because I knew my Grandma was really good at Bible trivia. Sure enough - my team did extremely well that day, and Grandma and Grandpa stayed in my class longer than they normally would have because Grandma enjoyed playing the game so much!

I remember all of those Sundays where we had coffee time at Grandma and Grandpa's house. When I was young, my cousin Sara and I spent the time before the food was ready playing with toys, but eventually we became 'grown up' enough to stay with the adults in the living room and talk. Most of the time I found the discussion to be exceedingly boring because I had no idea who everyone was talking about. When Grandma would get up to start preparing the coffee and dessert, I began to go in to help her. She would dish out individual pieces sometimes, and I'd help arrange and place everything on the table, or she would point out where she kept the dishes and tell me just to put everything in the middle so people could serve themselves. I also eventually gained the privilege of calling everyone into the dining room once we had everything ready. I'm not sure if Grandma realized that I considered it a privilege to help serve with her - but I did.

I remember many Sundays where I played my trumpet in the brass band at church. I could always expect a call from Grandpa and Grandma sometime that afternoon to tell me how good it sounded and what a great job I did. I knew that they couldn't have heard me specifically, but my heart was always warmed by the sincerity of those phone calls.

Grandma was always happy and excited to listen to stories of my travels and adventures. In college I took a couple of different trips to different countries, and I would make a specific picture slide show just to show to Grandpa and Grandma. It was so cool to be able to share my experiences with them in this way.

My most recent memory of Grandma (in May of this year) is when Michael and I told her and Grandpa that we're having a baby. I'm pretty sure Grandma was the one who came out and said that our baby is "number two dozen" - #24 of their great-grandchildren. They had a line of photographs of all of their great-grandchildren in their living room, and Grandma didn't waste any time in adding another frame to the end of that line. The frame was empty except for a white note inside, which read, "Baby Van Maanen - December, 2014".

A part of me wishes that Grandma could have stayed around for a few more weeks so that she could have been the one to change that white note in the frame for a picture and a label with a name and birth date. But I know that the Lord took her home at just the right time. I rejoice in her life, in her heritage of faith, in her love for her family, and in the way she impacted the lives of my entire family as well as many others.

Grandma – I have been blessed to know you on this side of heaven, and I look forward to the day when I get to see you again.

It is well with my soul.

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