We drove across three states, as we always do, to visit the log house she built with her husband named for sunshine. And the ache was palpable, undulating with the rolling hills of Wyoming, as we faded in and out of sleep.
One could almost imagine the ruts family tires had made over years, like those wagon trains of the Oregon Trail and the migration paths of animals before them, taking the long drive home.
We all loved her, this pioneer founder of a small community in western Wyoming, this no-nonsense woman of another time who kept the chili hot and the cocoa steamy for scads of kids, who taught many a young person the proper way to make a fountain Cherry Coke at the pharmacy, who raised four girls and kept the home while her husband mountaineered and coached near every sport in town.
These people — Grandpa with the infectious crinkle-eyed, near-coughing laugh, Grandma with the subtle smirk and beauty shop hair and lovingly chiding “Daddy” and “You boys” — they are woven right into the fibers of my husband and his brothers, my daughters and nieces and nephews after them.
I’ve called her Grandma for years, too, because she made room for me.
Even when she reached mid-nineties, her face lit when kids entered the room, and she didn’t mind the noise nearly so much as you’d imagine. She watched the Utah Jazz on the big T.V. and knew the players right along with the whereabouts of all the family, passing on news to every one of us.
Grandma Fanny told stories in bits and pieces, over black and white photos of her as a stunner fresh out of beauty school, over the phone as we tried to learn family recipes — Michael and my mother-in-law gathering her “suggestions” and writing them in the crinkly book’s margins.
She and Miss Sally, her across the way neighbor and dear friend, looked out for each other through front windows, scooting walkers across the street, making sure each knew she was wanted as husbands and many many others passed on.
I see Grandma Fanny now like I expect to always, eyes softened with the adoring of grandchildren, holding out a life-weathered hand when the time’s come for goodbyes.
Shared with the community of Unforced Rhythms at my friend, Kelli’s.
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Ashley, This was a beaitiful tribute. I want to reach out and touch your grandma’s hand. Telling her well done.
Thank you, Traci. What dear words. Well done is right.
I never met Grandma Fanny and I cry at the loss of her. What an exquisite remembrance you’ve written here Ashley. Such a positive force for goodness she has been. You know I don’t say this lightly – Fanny and Sunny both created enduring loving Legacies – how very lucky for all they touched! xox
Their legacy is really stunning. So touched to have been a part of that gift. xoxo
What a beautiful tribute to Grandma Fanny. I know those tire ruts well and the anticipation of arriving at Grandma’s house. What a blessed memory and thank you Lord that we will all be together hand-in-hand one day. What a glorious day it will be. Love you Ashley.
Amen, friend. I love you, too.
I never had the pleasure of meeting her, but it sounds as if, “pleasure” wouldn’t even come close to describing it. Sounds like one hell of a gal. I passed along my condolences to Mike at Ani and JT’s the other day. Now I’d like to pass them along to you. So sorry for your loss my girl. Love ya, Uncle Don
Thank you, Uncle Don. You are so dear. “One hell of a gal” — what fitting words for a pioneer lady like Fanny. Love you.
She is beautifully remembered. She sounds like an amazing woman.
I hope to walk with that sort of faithfulness throughout my lifetime, steady in love, yet always making room for more. Thank you for your words here.
I love you so… her legacy lives on, my friend! Prayers for you and the family!
Thank you, love. Appreciating prayers, especially for her four daughters (including my mom-in-law). Love you.
What a beautiful legacy she has given you. Praying for you as your grieve this huge loss. So thankful you chose to share her story with us.
Thank you for your prayers, dear friend. It was such joy to write just some of the parts of her story I know. So many more to be sure. xoxo
Ashley, you wrote this so beautifully, like the beginning of chapter in a book. I wanted more. But then, I have a special place in my heart for Grandparents.Sending prayers and love to you.
So sweet, Shelly. Yes, the power of grandparents — truly amazing. Thank you for seeing this in a book. What a compliment. :-) Much love to you, friend.
Beautiful Ashley…I cry reading & thinking of this woman & her legacy!
Yes, Fanny was a great woman. I love how you share tears with me, friend. Such a compassionate heart you have.
What a lovely remembering, and what a gift to have that relationship living still within you. Thank you for linking to Unforced Rhythms.
Thank you, Kelly. I like how you say, that relationship still lives within. Amazing how the stories of all these relationships give shape to who we are.
Sweet heart, what a gorgeous tribute to a strong and tender, influential and fascinating woman who loved her family and community so well. I could picture her through the years in my imagination, when she was a young mother and then late in life a grandmother, in her walker with her dear friend and that beautiful weathered hand. I could feel the ache of this loss in your words, how much she was (and will continue to be) loved by you and your family. I’m so glad you got to call her grandma, that she made space for you, too. I love you, friend.
Amber, thank you for the ways you read my words and see into the spaces and create your own loving pictures. What an honor to me as a writer and a friend. Thank you for taking the time to truly “see” Grandma Fanny here with me. I love you.