Sunday, May 27, 2012

Remembering My Grandparents

A book about Grandpa Ralph
Since it's Memorial Day weekend, I wanted to pay a little tribute to my deceased grandparents. They all had a profound impact on me. 

Grandpa Ralph

My mom's dad passed away from a complication of hemophilia (a rare bleeding disorder) when she was only eighteen year's old. When I was a little girl, I imagined Grandpa Ralph was buried in a quiet corner of our backyard. I'd sit there often and think about him. He spent a third of his life in a hospital, but he managed to live such a full life. He was an avid journal writer and an expert in classical music. Now I have a little boy with hemophilia, so I appreciate my Grandpa Ralph even more. The medicines are much better today, so my boy doesn't face the same level of challenges. Somehow, I feel grateful to my grandpa for that, as if he paved the way to make things easier for my son. Grandpa Ralph, thank you for teaching me to not take anything for granted, and for having an amazing attitude, despite your setbacks.

Grandma Doris

My dad's mother died of cancer when I was eight years old. I remember her fondly. She lived in a little yellow house in Boise, Idaho. As soon as I walked through those front doors, I felt enfolded in peace and love. Grandma Doris was quiet, gentle, beautiful. But underneath that was fire and passion. One time she pulled us grandkids into her kitchen and performed an enthusiastic clog dance. I couldn't have been more surprised. She also painted--mostly pictures of Christ. My favorite was on a canvas of deep purple velvet. Grandma Doris' faith didn't come easily, but she held onto her convictions. For much of her adult life she was addicted to Valium, which she took at a dose her doctor prescribed. Only in the last few years of her life, was she able to break the addiction. The lesson I learned from Grandma Doris is, no matter what, you can always choose happiness; that's a freedom no one can take from you.

Grandma Georgia

One word best describes my mom's mom: feisty. She was self-confident, free-spirited, outspoken, sharp as a tack. I actually didn't like her very much as a little girl. One time after I'd finished cleaning the laundry room, she came in to inspect and announced I'd neglected to wash the inside of the washing machine. Yeah! But in my teens, I grew to love her immensely. She always wore crazy big jewelry and animal print jumpsuits. She'd even snarl like a cat. Even though she was raised on a ranch in Montana, Grandma Georgia loved to act and sing. She and her sister performed together in a duo-act called the "Collins Sisters" (like the singing sisters in White Christmas). Grandma Georgia was a socialite and always the center of attention. She got Alzheimer's late in life, and it was painful to see her slowly decline. I learned from Grandma Georgia that life is beautiful if you work hard and don't complain (remember, she was married to Ralph, who practically lived in a hospital), but life is also about having FUN.

Grandpa Shaw

After Grandpa Ralph passed away, my Grandma Georgia married Larry Shaw. I've never seen a man who doted on his wife more. He enjoyed watching her in the limelight and did everything she wanted. This man had a smile on his face--ALWAYS. There's a picture taken on my wedding day where my veil caught the wind and blew over Grandpa Shaw's face, yet he just kept smiling for the camera. Later, when Grandma Georgia got Alzheimer's, Grandpa Shaw took the most loving care of her. My Grandpa Shaw left me with a legacy of complete selflessness. He was truly one of a kind.

I love you, dear grandparents. Thank you for everything you gave me. You're forever in my heart.


  1. They sound wonderful. I hope my grandkids have nice things to say about me when I'm on the other side. Nice post, and have a great holiday!

  2. Such a sweet post. I wish I'd met your fiesty Grandma Georgia!

  3. You have a fabulous blog. I’m an author and illustrator and I made some awards to give to fellow bloggers whose sites I enjoy. I want to award you with one of my homemade awards: The Inspiring Blog Award. There are no pass along requirements. This is just to reward you for all the hard work you do!

    Go to and pick up your award.

    1. Thank you, Deirdra. That's very thoughtful of you.

  4. That was so sweet Katie! I loved this:)

  5. Great tribute to your family. :)