remember.

I think God must need a few more choice spirits on the other side, because He has taken another beautiful woman from our life: my grandmother, Eva Lue Hassell.

On Wednesday evening (February 6th), after visiting her newest grandchildren, twins Cecily and Jonathan, in the hospital, Grandma lost her balance and fell, hitting her head and losing consciousness. She never regained consciousness, and passed peacefully around 9:15 pm, in the Provo Hospital. The doctors say that she likely had an aneurysm, and the fall caused it to burst.  I have never lost a grandparent before, and was lucky enough to grow up with both sets of grandparents alive, and healthy for the most part.

That night I was overwhelmed with a range of emotions that first started with guilt. Why is guilt my first instinct? I felt guilty for not emailing more. For not calling, hardly ever. I felt guilty for not making more of an effort. I have never lived in the same state as my Grandma Hassell, but our visits were always wonderful. TJ held me as I cried, and reminded me that I shouldn't feel guilty.

I also felt so very sad. Grandma never got to meet Jake in person, and only ever saw pictures, and was able to FaceTime with us at Thanksgiving. She was supposed to meet him in March, when she and Grandpa were going to come visit their Arizona children and grandchildren. March. Less than a month away.

Then I started to remember.

I remembered all the beautiful things that Grandma did for me. All the little things, like the time she came to babysit us while my parents went on an anniversary trip to San Francisco. I remember that we made peanut butter cookies and she let us eat the cookie dough. It was probably the first time I ever had cookie dough, because my mom is slightly paranoid about food-borne illnesses and the raw eggs are a big no-no. I remember that she cut cucumbers into spears and sprinkled them with salt and pepper, and that's how I've liked them ever since. I remember that she made some chicken strips marinated in soy sauce and I thought she was brilliant (I was 7, OK?).

For several years, Grandma would always send Christmas pajamas that we would open on Christmas Eve. One year she made matching nightgowns for me and Kyndra, with pockets. Inside one pocket was a smaller pocket that held a little flannel bunny she made. It was so fun to have a secret pocket with a cute little bunny! She always knew how to make things fun for us kids. When we visited her, she would give me bread dough to play with and sculpt into little creations that would harden when they dried. Grandma's house was a place filled with happy people, homemade honey crunch, and Wallace and Grommit were the only shows we watched.

Grandma and Grandpa traveled from Utah for my high school graduation, but didn't get to actually attend because of the rain (which caused the location to change and me to only be allowed two attendees: my parents). She bought me a nice winter coat for me to wear in Flagstaff when I moved here for college. I have long arms, and so a medium coat was too short in the arms, but the large was too wide in the torso. So, we bought the large and Grandma stayed up late carefully unpicking the seams inside, taking the coat in, and sewing it back up. You can't even tell. That coat has kept me warm in our cold winters, and I think of her when I wear it and the service she gave me.

They were on their second LDS mission to Russia when I got married, but Grandma was in town just before that and got to go wedding dress shopping with me. The last time I saw her in person was April of last year, when she and grandpa came to see my brother before his mission.

I was pregnant when I last saw Grandma, and I was also dealing with some private struggles. I remember being a little flustered because of this, and Grandma sat in my parents' kitchen, watching me. She probably saw that I was struggling and stressed even though I was trying to grin and bear it. She said, "Kylie, let me talk to you about babies."

So, I sat down at the kitchen table with her, and she told me about raising babies. She told me about her father, Herb Burrows, and how he was with babies. He would sit them on his lap and talk to them, not in just baby talk, but in a sweet and simple way that just captivated their attention. She told me about how her youngest, my Uncle Martin, would get fussy or start to get into trouble while she was trying to get things done. She learned that when she stopped what she was doing, and scooped that boy up into her lap to sing with him or read him a book or do a puzzle with him, that he would soak it all in, and after she had spent that little one-on-one time with him, he would go about his merry way and play on his own. She learned the value of giving that attention to her kids.

My Grandma raised 11 children. When she was told she would never have children of her own, she and Grandpa adopted 7 children, one of which was my dad. Five of those children were biological siblings, and the other two each came from different families. A few years later, she would miraculously bear 4 of her own. 11 children. She was constantly giving. Always serving. She was full of beauty and grace, even in humble circumstances. She was humble herself. She had beautiful, hardworking hands. I never heard her speak ill of anyone, even if they had wronged her. She had a passion for music, and for God, and for womanhood. She taught piano lessons to some people in Russia, so they could have music at church. She could speak Russian, write shorthand, and made delicious, simple food. She was always telling me how proud she was of me for my choices and accomplishments. She told me I was beautiful. She was everything you could ask for in a Grandma. She is a choice woman.

I'm grateful for my ability to write, and grateful I could finally write out my thoughts and feelings. I miss her terribly, but I know I will see her again someday (and that is the beauty of God's plan for us). She has set for me a beautiful example, and I can honor her legacy by following that example.

I love you, Grandma.

5 comments :

  1. Your grandma sounds like an amazing person and heaven just got a great angel <3

    Your in my thoughts and prayers <3

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  2. Wow, I was just thinking of Grandma (mom) last night. I too miss her terribly, but I also know I will see her again one day :) that knowledge is what gets me thru :) I love you <3 thank you for your beautiful writing.
    Xoxoxoxoxo,
    Mom

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  3. I'm so sorry. You've inspired me to look back and remember my wonderful grandmother.

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  4. Kylie, this is absolutely beautiful and touching. So perfectly written, I feel like I know her now. This is a great reminder for me to try a little harder to stay in touch with my dear grandma, and to be grateful for all of the amazing experiences and memories she has given me, just like your grandma did for you. And what great lessons we learn from them, to take with us throughout our whole lives! Thanks so much for sharing this.

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  5. I'm so sorry to hear about your loss (and someone else's gain- I imagine she will be a great missionary).

    I only had one grandparent growing up and it was so, so hard when he passed away my senior year of college. However, I've had so many special moments when I realize he is still helping me and developing a relationship with me. He and I were so close. He didn't teach me a lot of lessons, but he was there and when I was at his house I was really able to be a kid.

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Thanks for reading! I love reading your thoughts, too :)