Last weekend at the wedding, we were all acutely aware who was missing the special event. To some, she is known as Aunt Kappie; to my husband she’s his little grammy. My kids refer to her as Great Grammy and think it’s cool they have two Great-grandparents in their 90’s. For me, I call her Grammy or Great Grammy when talking with the kids. But if I look past all the titles and even past her name Kathryn, the name I find most agreeable with, is “friend”. Kathryn is my friend.
I’ve been known to exaggerate when it comes to my family. However, I’ve never had to do this with her. She’s truly one of the best people I’ve ever known. She possesses the heart of Jesus with eyes that see no color, no religion, no sexual orientation differences among God’s children. How often do you come across a person like this? However, she is a staunch Democrat and some might find fault with that. But she’s never shied away from who she is or changed her stance on how we should all treat one another. “Marsha, I have a Muslim neighbor now…” She told me a few years back. “You know what I’ve found out?” She asked, “No, what?” I replied with equal curiosity. “They aren’t much different that you and I”. She said with a smile.
Kathryn, besides raising three girls in Dayton, Ohio, was a beloved preschool teacher. A few years ago, she pulled out a letter she had recently received from a former student which read, “I can’t tell you how often I think back on my childhood days, and remember fondly, how well you loved me and all my classmates back then. Even me, the trouble maker. You made room in your heart and helped me find a better way. You taught us the golden rule, which I’ve never forgotten, “Love one another” He wrote; sending pictures of himself and children–letting her know, her care and love of him, was not misplaced and that he was happy.
This is but one of the dozens of letters she’s received over the years, from former students, all saying the same thing, “Thank you”.
Now Great Gram is not without fault, she is human after all and these last ten years have been difficult for her and she hasn’t always taken the difficulty well. But who can blame her? She’s the last surviving member of her family, here on earth and has endured rib pain most of her adult life. She’s had knee replacements, broken a leg above the knee replacement (at 92) and most recently fell and broken her hip. But she’s always fought back, keeping a foot here on earth and while the other turns off toward heaven.
Word came the other day, after talking things through with her daughters and doctors, she’s made the decision to be placed in hospice care today. We’ve all known this day would come eventually, but that doesn’t make today any easier. Failing health and memory, she’s become a shell of the vibrant and happy woman we’ve all come to know and love. While she will leave a big hole in our hearts and here on earth, we will also take solace in the fact that we were blessed to have been loved and taught how to love, by her.
God speed Great Grammy, Kathryn, my friend.