I did something radical. Well, for me at least…You have to understand, I grew up in a Southern Baptist home, so absolutely no alcohol, no crazy piercings (I didn’t get my ears pierced until I was 18) and absolutely NO tattoos.
In 2011, I lost my grandma. She got very sick in April and even though I was in college at the time, I stayed in Kansas City with her for 2 weeks while she was in the hospital. My professors were amazing and caring and worked with me to be sure I didn’t fall behind. We eventually had to put her in hospice when a major stroke after surgery pretty much took her from us.. It’s funny the little details you remember even when your world is a upside down… I remember that this was all happening during the Royal wedding of Prince William and Kate. Although Grandma wasn’t really cognitively there or awake, we watched the parade and the wedding on tv together. One night, I painted her fingernails and toenails lilac (her favorite color) and then sat in the chair next to her and we watched Dancing with the Stars. I’ve never been one to watch that show, but it was a special performance from a guest dancer as well as singer. There was a young girl dancing ballet and Pricilla Ann was singing her song Dream. I will forever associate that song with grandma and when I hear it, it takes me back to that night alone with her in the hospice room, listening to her labored breathing wondering with each breath if it was the last.
If you’ve never heard the lyrics to Pricilla Ann’s song I wanted to share them with you…
I was a little girl alone in my little world
Who dreamed of a little home for me
I played pretend between the trees
And fed my house guests bark and leaves
And laughed in my pretty bed of green
I had a dream
That I could fly from the highest swing
I had a dream
Long walks in the dark through woods grown behind the park
I asked God who I’m supposed to be
The stars smiled down on me
God answered in silent reverie
I said a prayer and fell asleep
I had a dream
That I could fly from the highest tree
I had a dream
Now I’m old and feeling gray
I don’t know what’s left to say about this life I’m willing to leave
I lived it full and I lived it well
There’s many tales I’ve lived to tell
I’m ready now, I’m ready now
I’m ready now to fly from the highest wing
I had a dream
When I heard her sing that song, I just imagined grandma was laying there saying to God “I’m ready now, I’m ready now”.
Earlier this year, we lost grandpa at the age of 96. Just like grandma’s long 2 weeks in the hospital, grandpa also spent time in the hospital. While both were completely different circumstances, at the time, it was like we were back in 2011 and our family was having to relive it all over again. To say that I miss them both would be an understatement, but I can be filled with joy and happiness in the midst of sorrow knowing that they are together again.
They were married 72 years.
After grandma passed, I wanted to, and then after grandpa, I knew I for sure wanted to.
I got a tattoo.
I don’t think I could describe to you how much these two meant to me, or tell you all of the ways that they have influenced my life, but I wanted something to remember them by. As time goes on, and life gets busy, I don’t think of them as often as I want to. I’m human and my brain can only hold so much and honestly, it’s over flowing at the moment. I wanted to be able to see it every day and remember them. I wanted to remember and be inspired by how much they loved their family. Gosh, did they love their family! All 4 children, 8 grandchildren, and 12 great-grandchildren. I want to remember how much they loved our God and how they shared that with everyone they encountered. There’s so much I want to remember…I want to remember to be as kind as they were. I want to be reminded to love others like they did, to cherish their family like they did, and to love God in the way they did.
When I was little, grandma would sit in her rocking chair in the living room. We would watch Antique Road show or Bob Ross. She would read children’s stories out of her old school books (She was born in 1919, so they were pretty old!) and then I would lay on my back on the floor, place my feet in her lap, and she would tickle them. Not in a way to get me to laugh, but just in a slow movement with her fingers. (I’m actually not sure how I managed to not go crazy with her doing that because I’m super ticklish now). She would do this for 30 min to an hour sometimes while we watched our shows. She would just do this and love me.
Grandpa and I (and grandma would come sometimes too) would walk down the blacktop to their neighbors’ house to visit. I don’t exactly remember why, but I would always walk barefoot down the blacktop and I would end up with feet as black as night by the time we got back home. I didn’t get to spend as much time with Grandpa as I did with Grandma because he was usually busy with the farm but those evening walks were a favorite memory.
So, I placed the tattoo on my foot.
They were constantly demonstrating and sharing their relationship with God. If it wasn’t just being kind to the stranger at the grocery store (heck, who am I kidding? Grandma and Grandpa never knew a stranger in their lives!), at the annual ice cream social, with their neighbors, or just being at church every Sunday. They loved God..one of Grandma’s favorite songs was Great is Thy Faithfulness and I love that if I close my eyes, I can still hear her singing it.
Grandma also loved birds. She always had bird feeders in their front yard and I remember this little book that had every bird in it and I would look through it and she would point them out and show me if they were in the yard…
Even though we lost Grandpa and Grandma years apart, they are together now. I don’t believe in reincarnation or anything like that, but I just have this mental picture of them as two birds together, flying up towards their Jesus, flying up towards heaven, towards their eternal home together.
“I’m ready now, I’m ready now, I’m ready now to fly from the highest wing…” -Pricilla Ann
A huge thank you to Hannah Sue Crane for placing what I had envisioned to paper! She’s an AMAZING artist. Check her out at www.hannahsuecrane.com