Between the holidays, sick kids, and snow days, it’s been a crazy few weeks. In the midst of that, my grandma went into the hospital, and after a week of trying several different treatments, she passed away peacefully on Saturday. I’ve spent the last several days working on a movie filled with pictures of her life and writing a eulogy for the funeral, which was yesterday. She left very detailed instructions for her funeral, and as part of that, she included her life goals. I don’t usually get too personal on this blog, but I’d like to share what I said here as a tribute to my grandma.
The life goals of Ella Mae Faszold, Oct. 31, 1927-Jan. 3, 2014:
To live as close to my sweet Lord Jesus as possible.
I’ve often told people Grandma had a direct line to God. She always knew when something was wrong with one of us before we called to tell her. She’d pick up the phone and say, “What’s going on?” I always believed that’s because she was so in tune with God. She craved her time with the Lord and spent hours every day praying and reading her Bible.
Be a good wife and mother to my dear children.
Grandma and Grandpa were married for more than 60 years, so I think she can check being a good wife off her list.
And her love for her kids, including her daughter-in-law, was so evident. She had a special relationship with each of them, and they would have done anything for her.
Although this particular life goal only mentions her children, she was also an amazing grandmother. My brother and I were pretty spoiled by our grandparents, and I don’t just mean in the toy department. We spent a lot of time with them growing up, and neither of us realized until we were older how unique it was that our two sets of grandparents were best friends. Grandma knew it, though, and a few years ago she gave me a journal she put together about their trips.
Here is an excerpt from the introduction:
“This all started when our two children decided in high school that they had very deep feelings for each other. Praise God they did something about it. Marriage.”
“It is truly a beautiful feeling to know one has two very good friends who will stand by if and when needed. It’s a once in a lifetime happening. It was a few years before we began to take advantage of that friendship and realized how unusual it is for in-laws (to some a dreaded word) to thrive on the love their children have for each other and us hopefully.”
I include this in her goal about being a good mother because an important part of parenting is knowing that your parents—or grandparents—aren’t perfect. I felt guilty for years about hooking Grandma in the shoulder while fishing, and then I found this:
“One day while fishing I told Beck he ought to move his fish box so I wouldn’t forget and sit in it. A few seconds later I backed up and sat in it. Had plugs and hooks all over my backside. What a mess. That was the same day Irene hooked Ray in the nose and I got Beck. It wasn’t too exciting for them, that’s for sure.”
I’m wondering why she didn’t tell me that story at the time …
Teach children about Jesus.
Grandma had such a heart for children. She taught Sunday school and volunteered at Vacation Bible School for years. And although it doesn’t have to do with Jesus, she especially loved Halloween. She figured all those kids didn’t just come for the candy. They were dressing up for her birthday.
To be a good person.
Being “a good person” is such a subjective thing to define, so I’m going to connect it with her last goal:
To conduct my life in a way to make my Lord Jesus proud of me.
Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and soul. The second is to love your neighbor as yourself. If these are the commandments we should strive to follow, then Jesus is certainly proud of the way Grandma conducted her life. She loved people, and it wasn’t superficial. She cared about what was going on in your life and would pray about it and follow up. For many years, she kept in touch with people through the mail. I won’t even try to estimate how many letters and cards she sent out. I know that during college I received something from her every single week. Sometimes she put in crazy things like hair ties my three-year-old would wear, but they always made me smile.
And she was always joking. In a note she wrote to me for my birthday a couple of years ago, she referred to me as “frosting on the cake,” a “young whipper snapper,” “sassy pants,” and “top grade raw hide,” then ended by saying “my mind and heart are in tune with yours. Jesus is right there too.” That’s so Grandma.
When she moved to Briarcrest (assisted living) and even during her stays in the hospital and nursing homes, she collected new friends in addition to the family, old neighbors, and church friends who continued to visit and call regularly. It’s because she showed them love and she made them laugh. She was still joking around with the doctors and nurses a few days before she died.
She blessed so many lives. One of the last things I told her was that I wished I could keep her here forever, but in the scheme of things, the time I have left on Earth is nothing to the forever we’ll have together in heaven. Her example is one of the reasons I’ll be there eventually.
So, yes, Grandma, life goals accomplished.