My sweet grandma passed away peacefully on Monday. It has been an emotional few days for my family and me. There are no words to express how much I am going to miss her, how much I already miss her.
I have known since I was a little girl how blessed I am to have her for my grandmother and have sincerely always felt I had the best grandma in the world. She is truly the best person I have ever known. No one has ever made me feel as unconditionally loved, cherished, and special as she did. The incredible thing about this is she had 13 children, 36 grandchildren, and 55 great-grandchildren, not to mention all of their spouses, and I know she made each of them feel the same way. She was such a constant source of light, love, inspiration, and encouragement. She inspired me and will forever inspire me in countless ways. She was everything I want to be. Her strong faith in God and endless prayers were such an incredible foundation for our family. She was so selfless and was always making sure everyone was taken care of and had plenty to eat. I have never known anyone who is as positive and grateful as she was. I mean truly, she was constantly saying things like, "that's the best," "couldn't be better," and "good, good, good" as well as "we have much to be thankful for." She was a friend to everyone she met. She never had an unkind word to say about anyone and always believed the best in people. She was a peacemaker to her core, and was always praying for peace in the world. She had an easy laugh and a beautiful smile. It was a joy just to be in her presence.
I have so many wonderful memories of Grandma that I will cherish forever. She loved to play games and usually won. We played so many games of Yahtzee and cards together over the years. When I was growing up Grandma loved to golf and bowl as well. I remember watching Grandma bowl in her bowling league, and she was good! And I remember her and Grandpa taking my siblings and I golfing when we were younger. Grandpa and Grandma cheered us on at many of my siblings' and my sporting events, plays, and concerts over the years. I can vividly picture them walking up to the softball field carrying their lawn chairs to watch us play. I was lucky enough to get to go by myself with Grandpa and Grandma to my cousin Jill's high school graduation in Colorado when I was 12. Everything my grandma made was delicious, but her rhubarb jam and icebox cookies stand out the most. I'm so thankful my aunt Teresa compiled a book of Grandma's recipes a few years ago. I have kept every letter and card my Grandma ever sent me. There are hundreds. She never missed a birthday or special occasion, but was usually writing to me just because. Up until a few year ago, Grandma's letters always came with an envelope full of newspaper clippings she thought I'd find interesting. I also have several sweet voicemails from her saved, including her singing Clara happy birthday when she turned four.
I'm so glad we named our sweet baby girl Emma Joy after my sweet grandma Margaret Emma. I'm so thankful she got to meet her and hold her. Since high school I knew one day I wanted to name my daughter Emma after her. I even told her that one time when she was in the hospital years and years ago. However, one day when I was in my early 20's my grandma was talking about her aunt Clara and Michael and I both fell in love with that name and just had to use it when our Clara was born. I'm so glad we were blessed with a second daughter and got to name her Emma. It's just perfect.
Grandma was 98-years-old. She was actually less than a month away from her 99th birthday. I know she lived a full, beautiful life. And I know she is in heaven, free of pain, reunited with Grandpa, her close sister, other loved ones, and most importantly, God. It's hard not to wish I could see her just one more time though. I just want to hug and kiss her, hold her hand, and tell her how much I love her again. I just want to be in her presence. Thankfully, I always made a point of telling Grandma how much I loved her, what an example of everything good she has been to me, how loved she made me feel, and how thankful I am that she was my grandma. I don't think I ever spent a day with her where she didn't tell me how much she loved me as well.
My little family was lucky enough to get to spend a lot of time with Grandma helping take care of her for a few months before Emma was born. It was such a sweet time that I will always cherish. I wish I would have done this the whole time, but I wrote down things she said the first few days we were there that I wanted to remember. She said to me...
"I've got the best granddaughter that I could ever have."
"I couldn't have a nicer granddaughter than you."
"I love you, too. I love you very, very, very much."
"I love you, love you, love you!"
"I pray for you every day that you will have a safe and healthy delivery."
"It's so good to have you here."
"You couldn't have a nicer family."
"You make a good team." (referring to Michael and me)
She was also so sweet to Michael, Clara, and David, always telling them she loved them as well. I loved seeing her interact with those most precious to me. Michael was so sweet to her and would always jump up and literally run sometimes if she ever needed anything. He would always joke with her that they were dancing when he helped her up and steadied her on her feet or got her to her chair. He made her eggs, toast with orange marmalade jam, coffee, and fruit almost every morning we were there while I helped her get ready for the day and took care of her. Michael told me that she made him a more positive person just being around her. She did the same for me. David and Clara loved her, too. Even little ones know there was something special about Grandma. The liked to help get her little arm pillows for her when we were getting Grandma settled into bed. They played Yahtzee with her and made her smile. She would tell me she likes to just listen to them. I'm so glad my two "big" kids got to make memories playing at Grandma's house just like I did when I was a kid. Like I already mentioned, I wish I would have wrote down more sweet things she said, but here are a few...
"Good singer. I like to hear you sing." (to Davey)
"He's the cutest little guy you could ever have." (talking about Davey)
"You'd make a good nurse." (to Clara when "helping" me with Grandma)
Speaking of making memories at Grandma's house, I am really going to miss being at her home. It was definitely one of my happy places, so full of love, wonderful memories, and a deep feeling of home.
My grandma was one of a kind and one of my best friends. I am so proud to be her granddaughter. I'm so proud that she remained as loving, positive, and grateful as ever until her final day on Earth. She will forever be an amazing example to me of how I want to live my life. My cousin Tara recently referred to her as an "Earth angel" and I think that was the perfect way to describe her. Now she is a heavenly angel. I am so thankful for the hope we have in Jesus. Just picturing God calling her home and welcoming her into His arms in heaven is so comforting to me. I have no doubt he said to her, "well done, my good and faithful servant" (Matthew 25:21).
I would be remiss not to say that my Grandpa was equally as amazing as my Grandma. My Grandpa passed away when I was only 16. He made me feel just as loved and special as she did and was such a good man. I will forever remember the feel of his whiskers as we hugged and kissed goodbye and he would always whisper in my ear, "Grandpa loves you." My grandma lived for over 15 years after my grandpa passed away and I know she missed him dearly. They loved each other very much. The two of them being reunited gives me so much joy. I can hardly wait to see them both again someday.
Davey saw me looking sad while thinking about Grandma today and he said, "Mama, I miss Grandma, too." That was definitely enough to make the burning lump in the back of my throat turn into tears streaming down my face. I am going to miss her so so much. I am looking forward to being with my family these the next few days as we celebrate her beautiful life.
I'm not usually someone who writes poetry, but I felt inspired one day in early 2012 after spending the day with Grandma. I ended up reading it to her at her 95th birthday celebration. I have since updated her age.
by Angela Ellingson
I have never seen such beautiful hands
To think of all that those hands have done in their 98 years
They have been folded for countless prayers
They have held and loved dozens of babies and children
They have baked and cooked some of the best meals to feed many mouths
They have golfed, bowled and played cards
They have cleaned and cleaned
They have written thousands of letters to all of her loved ones
They have served everyone in her path
They have helped in giving many loving hugs
They held her husband's hands for over 61 years
These hands have earned every beautiful mark, wrinkle and curve
I would be honored to one day have such beautiful hands
Grandma and me
in Colorado together
high school graduation party
Laura & Nick's wedding
Michael home on leave from his first deployment to Iraq
Grandma's 90th birthday
90th birthday party
Bisson Christmas party 2007
Bisson Christmas party 2008
my baby shower for Clara
Grandma's 95th birthday party
Clara jumping on the same trampoline I jumped on when I was little
visiting Grandma after she broke her hip
at Heather's bridal shower
Tessa's high school graduation party
Tyler & Colette's wedding
Grandma was in the Jasper parade the last few years. She was the oldest resident in Jasper.
Billy & Heather's gift opening
Grandma came to Davey's 2nd birthday party :)
Bisson Christmas party 2014
celebrating Roberta's birthday in the hospital while Grandma recovered from her heart attack
Grandma's 98th birthday
making memories at Grandma's house
at Heather and Haddie Jo's baby shower
Bisson Christmas 2015
Christmas Day 2015
pajama party at Grandma's