A Grandmother’s Legacy

Me and my MawMaw
Me and my MawMaw

I should preface this post by saying it may be a little sad, but it’s mostly happy and uplifting. It’s a story worth reading and a little comfort and closure for myself.

My Grandmother passed away last week. I just got home from Texas where I spent time with my family and dealt with all the unpleasant funeral stuff. I could write a book on how much losing a loved one sucks and the crazy roller coaster of emotions I have been on this week, but I have something much more special to share.

My Grandmother, we call her MawMaw, turned out to be keeping a secret from us the past 88 years. After she passed, my Mom found a journal, and a lot of other random writings, hidden around the house. We knew my MawMaw wrote every once in a while, but she always kept her writings private and told us she was a horrible boring writer. I assumed she wrote about gardening, building puzzles and watching TV dramas…regular Grandma life stuff.

What a liar my MawMaw turned out to be. Not only was her writing smart and entertaining, but every journal entry reads like a beautiful poem. Some parts are sad and hard to read… She wrote about caring for my bed-ridden PawPaw, losing 2 of her sons, dealing with another son’s cancer, losing a grandchild and many other hardships. However, in the midst of her depression she wrote about every beautiful aspect of her life, what she was thankful for and how she truly saw the world around her.

MawMaw was a Mother to MANY, a passionate Christian (possibly the most Godly person I have ever known), a strong-willed, not afraid to speak her very opinionated mind, kind of woman. She grew up in the south in a time when women were not seen as equals and should hide their real feelings. Depression and anxiety were shameful. She lived an honorable life and did her best to keep her sadness and anxiety to herself, which is why she wrote.

(Much of MawMaw’s words stem from her relationship with God. You may have a relationship with a different God, or no God at all. That’s okay. I believe there is a message in her words for each of us.)

The following words are bits and pieces of her daily thoughts over the last 19 years. (My favorite quotes) It’s the hills and valleys of her final years and a glimpse into the mind of a secretive and brilliant woman.

The family at Thanksgiving 2013 (She had 9 children, 19 grandchildren, 19 great grandchildren, 2 on the way and 4 great great grandchildren).
The family at Thanksgiving 2012 (She had 9 children, 19 grandchildren, 19 great grandchildren, 2 on the way and 4 great great grandchildren).

Life can be harsh and sorrowful. God, sometimes I need a little childish fantasy.

Joy and love and the awesome wonder of God are absolutely fantastic. It can’t be so hard to slip from the fantasy of elves, Santa Claus and fairies sitting on toadstools into the belief of God and all his angels, Fantastic!

Dec. 2, 1994 and it is almost sunrise- I venture out into a day of something.  I do not know what is around the corner, but God grant, courage will be with me. Each thing I do will be new; each daily duty will not be a repeat of what was done yesterday but an adventure anew in itself. We shall see.

It seems some people think they have reason to be miserable. They pick up on every word or happening to analyze it and extract all the misery like squeezing a dishrag and seeing only dirty dishwater instead of the clean dishes in the drainer. I want to enjoy life now; all the good, happy and beautiful things now so when I get to Heaven the transition won’t be so jolting.  From joy to joy will be like sliding on a satin ribbon. Poor miserable Christian what a jolt you will have. There was joy all through life and you missed it.

When I reach 80 I want to remember ten years of feeling the wind in my face, rain so refreshing, blue skies and stormy nights. I will find the big dipper; enjoy things that grow and children at play. Sad times will only be remembered as that by which good times are measured.

Right now there is just one thing I know of that makes sense and that is simplicity.

When bad times come it is hard to bear; but when it is past, replace sorrow with beautiful thoughts just like God said, “whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are beautiful, think on these things.” What a wonderfully easy way to cover yourself with His love and comfort. And it doesn’t cost anything; cheaper than a nerve pill.

As I grow older music touches me deeper to elate emotions that were always stifled by others but now I really feel the beauty of melody and movement.

Just imagine to what melody the limbs of trees sway in the breeze; unheard by the ear but felt in the heart.

(Her thoughts on depression and healing. She often wrote about “moving up the ladder” and reaching that “second step”) I’m convinced that I will never be without problems of all sorts, but still I must never see the dark pit again. Only an idiot is continually happy, joyous and has no problems; but stupidity is another thing. A stupid person hangs onto that first step and enjoys all that muck he is in. Boy, this second step feels better all the time.

The only good I see from this anxiety and stress is that it gives me understanding of others in similar situations.

I feel like a little girl going around and around a tree with one hand touching the tree trunk. Going nowhere but so tired of just going around and around. Depression is real. It’s a dark place, which seems so hopeless, no way out.

[My MawMaw’s 10 Steps to lead a successful life]

I.               Never be satisfied; for therein is danger, you may rust like a tin can in the rain and the weeds will grow over you.  The only time to be still is when you listen to God to receive His instructions for moving on. 

II.              Never take criticism at face value.  Examine the critics’ remarks closely.  Look in the “mirror” for a true picture of yourself.  If need be, correct yourself then smile and go forward.

III.            Pick a goal that seems a little more than you think you can attain.  You will work harder to get there.  Put lots of prayer into choosing a goal.

IV.            Don’t wait to be chosen.  Volunteer.  Choose your own friends and associates.  The only way to be ahead is to step out and move.  Go with God always. 

V.              Read much.

VI.            Be quick to give a compliment, especially to children.

VII.           First thing every morning look out the window and smile.  It’s all God’s world – rain or shine. Last thing at night smile even if it’s through tears for He can wash away tears.

VIII.         Don’t be overshadowed by fears, feeling of helplessness, guilty feelings.  Remember that you are a real person, better than some, and as good as most.  No one has the right to put you down or categorize you according to their ideas. Stand up and be counted.

IX.            Be straightforward.  When you are sure you are right, say so and don’t back down.  “Well if that is the way you want it” is out!  Especially if it affects you.

X.              Be kind, gentle, nice, clean and a real lady or gentleman.  Leave a legacy of good memories.

And, the very last line in her journal…

When all hope is gone heaven has been attained.

This wonderful woman will be very missed, but never forgotten. What a legacy she has left behind.

MawMaw trying on the Mouse Ears we sent her after our wedding.
MawMaw trying on the Mouse Ears we sent her after our wedding.

With all my love,

Hilarie

P.S. I want to thank everyone for their thoughts, prayers, kind words, flowers and food sent to the family. The amount of love shown to us has been incredible and I am oh so grateful. Thank you.

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10 thoughts on “A Grandmother’s Legacy”

  1. Oh, Hilarie…what a treasure you have! Such a smart, insightful, & eloquent treasure! I lost my Great Aunt (my grandmother’s sister & the last of that generation) six short weeks ago & I feel her absence deeply. It definitely sounds like your MawMaw & my Ninnie could have been incredible lifelong friends! 🙂 My wish is that you are able wrap yourself up in her words & find hope & comfort there for years to come.
    I am going to read these beautiful words over & over & share them with my girls, because these are too wise not to. How awesome to be able to share this with generations to come. Thank you SO much for sharing this! A true treasure indeed!

    1. Maybe our MawMaw and Ninnie will get to meet now and share their stories. Thank you so much Kelly. It makes me so happy and proud to know that her words are having a positive impact on other people. I’m so proud to be able to share her wise words with so many other people.

      1. Today actually would have been Ninnie’s 89th birthday & her only son is getting married today (after 63 years being a bachelor!), so I’m sure she could be easily found with the party that’s happening today! SO fun to imagine them meeting! 🙂

  2. Hilarie my heart is so full at this moment . Your MawMaw was one of the most awsome Godly women I’ve known. What a wonderful legacy she has left her family. We all thank yall so much for sharing her words with us. I know it will change my own life in ways that I might not have thought of before.I will continue to keep you and your family in my thoughts and prayers. And I will try to remember to smile at the begining and end of each day as your MawMaw said and to be thankful of what God has given me. Take care. Love you!!

  3. What beautiful writing and what a beautiful woman. I hope you will share much more. I feel like I’ve been given a present of her thoughtfulness.

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