Thank You for Coming

After 97 years of a life well lived, my wonderful Grandma has gone to Heaven. We celebrated her life yesterday in Caldwell, Kansas and laid her to rest next to Grandpa in the Czech Cemetery. It was a tough day, of course, but also a joyful one as we remembered Grandma’s terrific sense of humor, eager interest in the world around her, and love for her family and friends.

Grandma was a great lady. There’s no other way to put it. She was always sharp. Always classy. And she had a gift for engaging people in conversation, even when she couldn’t hear very well anymore. Part of her “gift of gab” was her ability to ask good questions, which is an art I think we’re losing in modern society. Most people are so caught up in their own lives and want nothing more than to talk about themselves. Grandma, in contrast, was always asking questions of others. “How are you?” “What’s new with your job?” “What activities are the children doing?” “Did you hear about such and such in the news?” “What do you think of this athlete or that coach?”

She had an uncommon interest in learning new things, right up until her very last days. She read every scrap of her daily newspaper, always had a crossword puzzle near completion, and was ready to chat with anyone on a wide variety of topics: politics, sports, business, the economy, farming, you name it. I was always so impressed by her active mind, and every year I would remark, “She’s 93 and sharp as a tack!” “She’s 94…95…96…97 and still sharp as a tack!”

I was and am very proud to be her granddaughter. She represented so many qualities that I hope to possess myself. Grandma was strong willed and incredibly determined. She was intelligent and witty. She wasted NOTHING—not time, not money, not any little thing that could be re-used. And she knew the meaning of diligence and sacrifice in the face of significant hardship and loss.

Grandma was indeed a great lady, and I emphasize the word “lady.” Like many of her generation, she always wore her pantyhose and earrings, always wanted her hair just so, and always had impeccable manners. Every time I visited her, even if our conversation lasted only a few minutes, she would smile and say “Thank you for coming.” It was a great gift to my mom, sister and me that on Grandma’s last night with us, she awoke from a sound sleep as we were leaving, looked us right in the eyes, smiled, and said, “Thank you for coming.”

I would say many things to Grandma now if I could. Things I wish I would have expressed to her while she was with us. But in the absence of her physical presence, I’ll send her this simple message: “Thank you, Grandma, for coming into my life. Thank you for the gift of my wonderful mother. Thank you for being so sweet to me and to my children. And thank you for setting such a lovely example of a life well lived.”

— Sarah