Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Remembering Grandma

Today, our family and friends said good-bye to Kate (Grandma) Sauers. As much as we miss her, and already feel the void, we are happy that she is home with Jesus.

Grandma's brothers, Jim & Jerry, shared a few words at the funeral. Uncle Jim made a point of strongly emphasizing her faith and the fact that she was a prayer warrior. My Grandma, and her siblings, had gotten this trait from their mother; my great-grandmother, Marie Zerkel. Faith is the strongest thread our family has. It's what binds us together and makes us all as caring and close as we are!

Uncle Jerry shared with us a few stories of Grandma; many of which were humorous and showed everyone a side of her that we sometimes forget. He made us all laugh when he joked about her lead foot and how she must be a distant relative of a race car driver. He also mentioned her love of sports; particularly IU and Notre Dame. It immediately reminded me of the time my Dad, brother, and I were in the beauty shop where she cut hair and we were all watching the Colts game. We were glued to the TV and she had paused with her comb and shears that she had been using to cut my brother's hair. The Colts either made a touchdown or did something really awesome, because I remember Grandma throwing up her arms and yelling "YAAAAHOOOO!!" It totally shocked me and makes me smile/laugh even still! She was rather excited and animated lol!

I also shared from my heart as well. Here is what I read:

It hasn't even been a week since Grandma went home. Yet, it already feels like the whole world has changed now that she's not in it. Everything about her was so unlike anyone else. She always made everything better and as close to perfect as possible. Even yesterday, I was looking at all the food that had been carried in for us to eat. I thought about what Grandma might have made and how we all would have praised her for how tasty it was. No one makes food like Grandma. Everything she made was delicious; even if she insisted that it was somehow flawed. She was a perfectionist, and no matter how perfect her work always was to us (or how much she went above and beyond to make it that way) she always made a point of telling us how she could have made it even better. She always had those interesting cooking tips and tricks. Though, as the saying goes, she was often imitated but never duplicated. It doesn't matter how well you can follow Grandma's way; it's never going to be as perfect as when she did it.

Food wasn't the only thing she had tips for. I remember watching her pack a suitcase. She handled each item with care and was placing tissue paper in-between everything. She told me this was to keep the clothes from wrinkling. She always did things I would never have thought to do and they all seemed to be such smart and sensible ideas for making the most of things and saving time. I told her that she needed to write a book for me that was filled with little things like that; as well as her recipes and special things that she did that I would never think to do on my own. Of course, she always downplayed these things as not being all that special. Maybe she didn't really get that the bigger picture was that we wanted to keep all those tiny little details (that she paid so much attention to) going on for as long as possible.

Extending her memory is as important to us as it was for her to extend the life out of everything. There wasn't much that she didn't save for a later use or for a keepsake. After all, how would she make a instrument case for my flute if she hadn't saved the extra material that she had leftover from making my peach bridesmaid's dress for my Dad's wedding? While all my other fellow flutists were buying flute cases from a gal that was selling them, Grandma was making me one that was unlike any of theirs. It was denim; and the lining inside was that peach satin. Of course, Grandma added "extras." She added a star on the outside, as well as a pocket, and my initials were in gold glitter. Priceless! Of course, that was always Grandma's way; from hems to haircuts, she could do it all! She was always there to make, mend, and create things; for special events, or just because. Whether it's a dress, blanket, curtains, birthday cakes, or whatever else that needed taken care of, she was there to make sure it got made or fixed.

It seemed like a cruel thing to happen that after all those years of lending her faithful and helping hands, one was taken away from her. I can't imagine how discouraging it must have been to not be able to use your hands for all the things you used to do; including all the simple every-day things that we take for granted. Yet, I don't think any of us heard her complain about it much. She persevered with her faith and always had an incredible will to survive. No matter what challenges she faced in life (even at the very end) she never gave up. She wanted to keep being there for everyone the way she always had; no matter how much she had slowed down. Though, I suppose that was what it took for her to finally take a break and let us do for HER for a change. Although we could never repay her for everything she has done for us, we were always more than willing to try. Even now, she continues to give so much to us as we remember everything that made her who she was and how all of it flowed from her heart of faith. Her faith gave life to her and she shared that life with us. Our reward is the fruits of her labor and the impact that she will forever have on us; as well as the bonus of being with her again if we cling fast to the faith that she so cherished. She is now receiving her reward in heaven right now; where everything is new, perfect, and lasts forever. I can only imagine how she might object to not doing enough, just as Jesus would be assuring her that she did. Can't you just hear him say, "Kate, your work was done unto me. Therefore, it was perfect. It's absolutely good enough and the results will last forever. Now, you can finally rest after a life well spent. Well done, good and faithful servant. Welcome home!"

We miss you, Grandma!! We hope you're enjoying heaven! No one will ever be able to take your place here, but we'll do our best to carry on in your absence. We love you and thank you for all you have done and all that you are! You have fully blessed us with a multitude of beautiful memories and remembrances. You have left your mark on all of us, and the world! You'll never be forgotten! Amen.

These memories are only but a few of the MANY I have of her; both growing up and in recent years. My more recent ones are of how she thought to give me birthday money back in July (and particularly since it was my 30th, she wanted to make sure she did something). As always, she was thinking of others rather than herself. There she was, taking the time to think of me and sacrificially give me something when she was so under the weather. I used that money when I went down to Indy for Sarah's bachelorette party and we all got pedicures. In fact, that nail polish is still on my toes almost two months later. Yes, it's chipping and some of it is barely there....but I think of her when I see those purple sparkles and I just don't want to take it off yet. At the very least, I think I'll have to find that same OPI nail polish so that I can redo them often and think of her every time.

My other really fresh memory is of her helping me out so much with the kids (particularly Gianna) when the kids and I moved back home two years ago. Gianna started pre-school, and Grandma helped pick her up during the times my Dad or I were still at work and couldn't make it. I always hated to ask, but she was always more than willing. She always said how much she enjoyed picking up Gianna and that she loved having that time with her. Of course, Gianna somehow managed to get Grandma to buy her milkshakes from McDonald's, but it made Grandma all too happy to spoil her little sweetie with a treat. It made me think of all the times she took us grand-kids through the drive-thru for a happy meal or some kind of special treat. Yep, if Grandma wasn't making us some of her yummy food, she was giving us our next favorite: fast food!

Grandma was always spoiling us! She never thought she did all that much for us, but she did! I remember how she told me about an occasion where she bought new shoes for my cousin, Veronica, because hers were so worn out. Her sister, Valerie, wanted new shoes too. Grandma told her that hers were still good and that she really didn't need any. However, those tearful, pleading, Precious Moment eyes of  hers melted Grandma's heart easily and little Ta-Ta got some new shoes too. ;) I believe Grandma also bought me a pair of shoes too after my Mom, brother and I had to stay with her a while when our house was being de-fumigated (skunk got in the crawl space. It was horrible lol!). Not only did she get me new shoes (since my other pair had absorbed some of the smell) but she laundered so much of our things and picked me up from school (despite my mother telling me not to call Grandma to come and get me) when I discovered that yet something else I was wearing wasn't quite free from the smell. Someone would notice it during first period study hall (but thankfully, no one ever knew it was me or I would have never lived it down lol!) and I would quietly find a way to say I was sick, excuse myself, and go to the office to call Grandma to rescue me lol! 

As kind and generous as Grandma was, my cousins and I also knew that Grandma's wrath wasn't something you ever wanted lol. We often laugh about how she would get after us for being too rowdy in the basement, or disobeying safety orders by climbing the trees or wandering through the corn fields. As much as Grandma loved us, she wasn't opposed to getting out the yardstick if we really pressed our luck! I remember how Veronica and I unrolled a bunch of toilet paper once. We got caught, yelled at, and watched as Grandma carefully rolled it back up so it wouldn't be wasted lol. I also remember how she nursed my bloody nose after my cousin Katie took a toy vehicle and hit me with it (to which Grandma yelled, "Wayne, take her to bed!" I'm sorry, Katie, but I will never be able to forget how you were kicking and crying in mid-air as Grandpa held you by the arms out in front of him lol!). Grandma told me the correct way to make it stop was by pinching and holding my head down. I had always held it back, but despite my objections and skepticism, we did it Grandma's way (and of course, it worked much better).

She also wasn't afraid to get after Grandpa. We all know how ornery HE is! ;) I'm sure this will be one of the odd things that we (and Grandpa) will miss quite a bit. Who can forget how she would roll her eyes at him, or get after him for being goofy?! One of my favorite phrases was, "Wayne, cut that out!" Grandpa and Grandma may have acted like Frank and Marie Barone from "Everybody Loves Raymond" sometimes, but we all know they care about each other deep down. They have been together over 60 years and poor Grandpa is taking the loss much harder than any of us ever thought he would. Please, keep him in your prayers (and that he will finally see to it that he will welcome Christ into his heart so that he can be with Grandma like he wishes).

I still have many more memories that I would love to share, but I'll stop. Feel free to comment and add your own stories if you'd like! If there's one thing Grandma did best, it was smiling and laughing (ohmigosh, I'm soooo going to miss that big smile and that special laugh of hers!). She always made me laugh; especially when she would squeeze my knee as a kid and make me giggle. "There's that wooden leg!" She would say lol. Anyways, you know how much Grandma loved sharing stories; and sharing every detail...right down to the year, day, and even day of the week (and sometimes the hour) that it happened lol!! God bless you all as we remember Grandma! Thank you for your love and prayers!! 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What wonderful memories and very well said.