|A book about Grandpa Ralph|
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.
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.
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.