Thursday, July 17, 2014

A Living Legacy

(photo courtesy of John Allen)

"In family life, love is the oil that eases friction, 
the cement that binds us closer together, 
and the music that brings harmony."
Friedrich Nietzche

What a treasure when a family can boast of having one of their own members here on this earth for 100 years.   That is exactly what all on Brian’s mom’s side of the family have been doing these past few months.   And recently, we all gathered in Arlington, Virginia to celebrate Grandma Helen’s 100 years of life.  

I took many things away from this great celebration, and from Grandma and the legacy she is leaving.

Family and friends traveled from all over the country to celebrate with Grandma.

Aunt Bridgey and Mamaw
Brian's dad's side of the family, who live in the D.C. area, came for the celebration.

Cousins Brandon and Macayla, and Aunt Sandy
More cousins:  Connor and Claire and Jayden........and Uncle Mark.
Brian's Uncle Paul and his Mom
I would describe Grandma as having a quiet spirit, and a peaceful and content disposition.  These attributes make her a joy to be around.  In spite of difficulties in her life (ie, losing her husband and oldest daughter, going blind) she is always just as sweet as pie.   A gentle soul. 
Grandma and Uncle John (from California)
She still lives in her own home.  She still does her daily exercises.  She still sends birthday cards to her (large!) family.  She still has her daily martini.  She still keeps a regular smile on her face.  She still has a sense of humor;(when I asked her how she felt about all these people coming to celebrate with her, she replied:  “this too shall pass”!)  She still is as sharp as a tack, carrying on lovely conversations whenever the opportunity presents itself. And if I must point out the obvious: She still looks fantastic!

Brian, Bridget and Timmy
Timmy, Sandy and Kevin      (picture courtesy of John Allen)
I once asked her what the trick was to having a long, happy life.  She shared that she just learned at an early age not to argue about things.  She saw this as unnecessary and unhelpful.  This approach has obviously served her well.

Grandma had eight children and was married for fifty years. All of her (living) children came to honor her, coming from as far away as Hawaii, Seattle and California. Many of them spoke at her party.  Here are just a few of the ways that they described her:  faithful, dedicated,  hard working, caring, humble, loving.  
A proud Mama and her seven children.     (picture courtesy of John Allen)
“Your children are the greatest gift God will give to you, 
and their souls the heaviest responsibility
 He will place in your hands.
 Take time with them, teach them to have faith in God. 
Be a person in whom they can have faith. 
When you are old, 
nothing else you've done will have mattered as much.” 
~Lisa Wingate
(picture courtesy of John Allen)
Most of her grandchildren and some of her great grandchildren came for the celebration(above).

Uncle Jim giving part of the tribute.
Brian and his siblings  (picture courtesy of John Allen)

Mamaw and Uncle Mark (from Seattle)     (picture courtesy of John Allen)

There was lots of celebrating at Grandma's house all weekend long. The weather could not have been more perfect:  70-80’s with low humidity(almost unheard of for summers in D.C.).

Lucy and cousin Carl chatting.
Lucy deciding what she is going to do about that dog....
Decision made.
Lucy and Uncle Timmy
I was talking with one of the cousins about Grandma’s (unusually- large- for –Arlington,Virginia) backyard.  She was reminiscing about playing there as a child, and described it as “magical.”   I witnessed what she what talking about while there.   In an effortless way, Kids (and adults!) naturally transform into carefree, playful beings while out there.  It was beautiful to witness. 

I had to include this picture of cousin Dylan (in purple, below). Lucy had never met him before; he was so sweet and patient with her all weekend long.  Lucy was smitten.  She was his shadow and constantly wanted to play with him;  he just went with it.  I will never forget the kindness he showed to her.

Enjoying a walk and lunch out one afternoon in downtown Arlington. It really is a beautiful (and very clean) area:

Can you see the resemblance between Brian's mom and her brothers?
Grandma is always so sweet with Lucy.  Since she is blind, we encourage Lucy to hold her hand.  Grandma always loves this.  Imagine, 95 years separating these two?  Amazing.

I love these pictures of Grandma, Lucy and Uncle Mark talking. 

Do you see Grandma smiling?

I wonder what they were talking about?

Every moment of life that we are given with family is precious and is to be cherished.   I can only imagine how many people Grandma has blessed by being here for 100 years.   What a treasure. 

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