July 15, 2012

"When someone you love becomes a memory, that memory becomes a treasure."

While Grant and I were home, we celebrated the life of one of the most amazing women I have ever known, my Grandma Grafft.  I was one of the speakers at the service and below I've shared what I said.

Hi, I’m Kingsley and I’m the eldest granddaughter.  Most of you are here today because you knew Marilyn Grafft, some of you knew her as Mrs. Grafft, a few of you knew her as Marley, two of you knew her as Mom, but five of us were lucky enough to know her as Grandma.

These past few weeks God has decided to test our family.  And a few hours before Grandma passed, I was talking to my other Grandma on the phone and she said: “This is such a tragedy, but this must just mean that she has taught you everything she was supposed to.”  And while I would much rather have Grandma here than the lessons she left behind, I have to agree.  So today I would like to share with you some of the best lessons we learned from her.

Lesson #1: Our family likes to eat. And food is a perfectly acceptable way to show love.
I think the five of us will agree that when we think of veggies and dip, chips and guacamole, and butterfly crackers with salmon and strawberry flavored cream cheeses we think of Grandma.  Wherever we were, Grandma always made sure that we were well fed.  Looking back on that, I think she just knew that if she had plenty of food, she could keep us quiet longer.  The five of us have spent hours sitting on Grandma and Grandpa’s sofa around the coffee table, stuffing our faces.  And Grandpa, don’t think that will stop anytime soon.  When I think about our crazy family, my most favorite memories are at meal times.  Tahoe trips, Thanksgivings, birthdays, BBQs, graduations, you name it.  With the 11 of us, there has always been so much laughter, lots of good food, and plenty of Grandma’s apple pies. 
Grandma was a wonderful cook and hostess.  Mom always said that she was always the first to know about new gadgets.  Any of you who have received a card from Grandma know that she always wrote in cursive.  Well, this Mother’s Day, when reading the card, Mom said, “Grandma mailed me something to crush whale spices.”  “What are whale spices?” we asked.  Turns out Grandma had written whole spices; Mom just had a little difficulty making out that word in cursive.  Grandma had found a great new gadget for blending spices while cooking! 
Along with new toys, she showed us the power of bringing family together around a great meal.  Those meals have created so many wonderful memories and I know that we will have many more meals to come. Only now Grandma gets a bird’s eye view and she doesn’t have to cook or do the dishes- sounds like her dream!

Lesson #2: There are many ways to send love.  And each way can make a profound impact.
Eric and I were the first to graduate high school and go off to a university.  And we were kind enough to pick the same school so that our grandparents didn’t have to choose a favorite school.  We even graduated on the same day, unfortunately from different colleges, so Grandma and Grandpa got to sit through almost 5 hours of graduation ceremonies that day. 
All my life I remember getting apple pies, cookies, oranges, vegetables, and casseroles whenever we saw Grandma and Grandpa.  And in college, Grandma would mail us each a box of goodies.  Sorry, Grandpa, shipping five boxes probably cost you an arm and a leg during orange season.  Whenever I had a new box, the boys in the apartment next door would come over to see if Grandma had mailed any of her famous chocolate chip cookies.  But when we left for school, something new started along with our care packages.  They started the tradition of depositing some fun money into the grandkids’ accounts every month while in college.  There is a bank teller in Santa Clara who could tell you quite a bit about the five of us thanks to his monthly conversations with Grandma. 
Grandma and Grandpa wanted each of the five of us to have a little extra spending money and along with the deposit came an email from Grandma each month.  Every email had a subject line that corresponded to the appropriate holiday that month. Each grandchild received a personalized email asking us about our classes, clubs, apartment life, etc…you name it, Grandma remembered to mention it in the email.  The very first month I received my deposit, I picked up the phone and called Grandma and Grandpa to thank them.  Grandma picked up the phone and thanked me for calling but told me that replying to the email would be enough-she didn’t want to take away from my social life. 
These emails made me feel so close to Grandma and Grandpa even when they were hours, and now states away.  The emails still kept coming after graduation and Grandma spent a whole year being the only one in my family to really understand what it was like to be in a relationship with someone in the military who was far away.  Although, she always had a way of helping me put things in perspective.  She would tell me about the letters she would write to Grandpa and about what it was like to wait for a response…it made text messages and phone calls seem like quite the luxuries.  And her emails were my favorite thing to wake up to in Tennessee when I was missing home.  Grandma would always email after reading one of my blog posts to update me on life in Santa Clara.  Grandpa, I hope you know that once things settle down around here, I’ll be looking forward to those emails from you!

Lesson #3: Successful love is something that takes effort, energy, commitment; and those things are always worth the payoff. 
A couple months ago, Mom, Dad, Caroline and I went to go help Grandma and Grandpa plant hundreds of impatiens.  Caroline and I thought to ourselves, no problem, move a little dirt around, plant a few flowers, piece of cake.  Little did we know that over the years, Grandma and Grandpa had formulated quite a system for their garden to be successful.  We had to mix new dirt with old dirt, carefully place the flowers so that each bucket had a variety of colors, get Grandma’s approval, break up the roots, plant the flowers, and pat the dirt.  Then, Caroline and I had to water the plants with special vitamins, which we were great at, and then there was special stuff to keep the snails away.  And after that Grandma and Grandpa still had to put chicken wire over the top of all the buckets to protect the flowers from those pesky squirrels until they could really start to grow.  Grandma loved spending time in the garden; and I like to think that the way Grandma took care with planting and growing the flowers is the same way she loved Grandpa.  She loved him more than anything and has shown us all that the key to a good marriage is effort to keep the marriage growing, energy to always be an active participant, commitment to one another, protection of the marriage during the tough times, and most of all continuous, unconditional love for one another. 
In order to be married in our church, Grant and I had to go through pre-marital counseling sessions with our minister.  One day Father Larry asked us who in our life has the best example of what a marriage should be and has a marriage that we would like to model ours after…without skipping a beat Grant said, Kingsley’s grandparents.  I couldn’t agree more.

I know that many of you are dealing with the same massive apple pie sized hole in your heart right now that my family and I are.  And I don’t think that hole will heal for a very long time. 
But when I think about all the memories I have of my Grandma and how sad we have all been lately, I can hear her in heaven saying “oo come on guys, we’ve been sad long enough.”  Grandma wouldn’t want us to be sad.  She always put the rest of us first.  She was the strongest, hardest working woman I have ever met and I’m hopeful that some of those good genes have been passed along.  She would want us to be close as a family, eat lots of yummy food, laugh about all the funny stories, and to continue making lots of memories together.

An unknown author once wrote, “When someone you love becomes a memory, that memory becomes a treasure.”  Lucky for us grandkids, we knew all along we’d struck gold with our Grandma.



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