Ninety years. I’m sure you will agree with me that that is a long time.
Can we quantify the fruits of such a life?
Two amazing husbands. Seven children. Twenty grandchildren. Fourteen great grandchildren and counting.
That in itself is impressive. You have created life. Isn’t that amazing? You are partially responsible (directly or indirectly) for not only bringing 41 separate and beautiful little lives into the world, but also for nurturing all of those little beings in such a way as to produce responsible, compassionate people. It is a cycle that will continue long after even I have gone. What better gift could a woman give? Without this gift I would certainly not exist, or at least I would not be the woman I am today. Growing up I was heavily influenced by you- your patience, your compassion, your gentle spirit, your energy, and your ability to make friends quickly and easily made a huge impact on me, not in the least because most of those traits are counter to my own nature.
It also says something that, out of twenty grandchildren, spaced both in age and geography, we are all close. You have taught our parents and in turn us the importance of family, and we hold that lesson dear. And because we are all close I know that you have had as much of an impact on them as you have on me. You can take at least partial ownership of all our successes. You helped to shape us into the responsible, compassionate adults, the loving mothers and fathers, the caring friends, and the loyal spouses we are today.
I am proud and grateful that my children get to spend time with you. Not all children are fortunate enough to have great grandparents who are living, and most that do might not have greats who are able or willing to deal with the eccentricities of small children, let alone spend time visiting and playing games with them as you do. Isabel loves playing games with you, and I know it is a memory she will cherish forever. And while they likely won’t remember it, I’m sure Kennedy and Evie will cherish the pictures of you “carrying” them around this past Thanksgiving. What an absolutely beautiful gift to give your great grandchildren- your time and attention. That is, in fact, a poignant lesson I learned from you- if you give a child positive attention, they won’t try to seek attention through negative behavior. Through my years as a preschool teacher and a now as a parent this has been my single biggest guiding principle.
So, on this momentous occasion, I want to make sure you know exactly how much you have meant to all of us. Exactly how far the effect of your love and compassion and kindness has spread. You have given us the ground in which to place our roots, roots that have grown wide and strong and that have enabled us to reach for the stars. And for this, we so humbly thank you.