Grandma was a special woman with a strong testimony of the gospel, of family heritage and of missionary work. She served several missions for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and had a deep and loyal love for the culture and people of Tahiti, where she served. She frequently and freely shared shell leis and island stories with people who would listen and appreciate. I feel a spark of extra enthusiasm every time I hear the Tahitian drum beats or hear "Ia ora na!" as a greeting, and I'm so grateful to live in the Polynesian Islands where I've had an opportunity to learn to appreciate and get a flavor of some of the things she so dearly loved about her time in Tahiti.
We sometimes referred to Grandma as "eccentric". She was a collector and giver of things. Lots and lots and lots of things! She loved to shop the D.I. (similar to the Goodwill or Salvation Army Thrift Stores) and buy gifts for family members. I'll never forget the Christmas when we were still in Utah and got to go to her apartment and pick out our own Christmas gift from among (no exaggeration!) hundreds of trinkets and treasures spread out over multiple banquet tables. It was a literal smorgasbord of second-hand stuff that she considered trash-to-treasure and loved to pass along.
Grandma came to every single family event that she was invited to. Graduations, baby blessings, baptisms, weddings, etc. she was there. And she always arrived with an enthusiastic "Yoooo hoooooo!" and kisses on our cheeks. I grew up with Grandma in our home for almost all Christmas and Thanksgiving holidays that I can remember. She was a fixed part of the holiday. She mostly sat and observed the goings on. But she was present. Always.
One time Grandma came to stay with me and my younger siblings because my mom was in the hospital. She'd apparently gotten a good deal on cantaloupe before coming. I kid you not - we ate cantaloupe soup while she stayed with us. We had cantaloupe for all three meals plus dessert for days. I couldn't eat cantaloupe for years after that. Now I eat it with a fond heart and a giggle. Another time when she was taking care of me and my brothers and sisters she made us a casserole but we were out of milk in the house. So she used vanilla ice cream in place of the milk. They're both dairy right? Needless to say the casserole was inedible. Needless to say, she had given us one more family funny to laugh about over and over again. Needless to say, she gave us so many special memories that we can recall and smile about now.
When I was in college Grandma Ruth shocked me completely. She was in her 70's and had lived life as a widowed, single woman for about thirty years. So what did she do? She became friends with a nice gentleman in her senior apartment community and went and married the man! She showed me that love has no age limit. I remember being really, really happy for her to have a companion for many of her older years.
I loved my Grandma. I've missed her since moving away from Utah. I've said good-bye to her at the end of each visit knowing it could very likely be the last time I would have a chance to say good-bye in this lifetime, but always hoping for just one more visit. Our next visit will just have to wait.
|At my sister Sarah's wedding in August 2007.|
|At Molly's baby blessing in Utah, July 2008. A four generation picture.|