Friday, September 23, 2011

Grandma Ruth

My Grandma Ruth passed away tonight. It wasn't sudden or unexpected. She had four of her six children in the room with her when she took her last breath. I understand that her out-of-state daughter was on the phone with the siblings at the time or shortly thereafter. Her oldest son was certainly waiting and welcoming her on the other side. So was my Grandpa Bentley Mitchell, who died over 50 years ago. Despite missing her for now, I can't help but feel such an overwhelming sense of gratitude for my faith in eternal life, my faith that families can be together forever, my faith that Grandma and Grandpa had a long-awaited, joyful reunion in heaven tonight.

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.
The last time we saw Grandma when we visited in Utah, March 2010.
We arrived at her nursing home after she'd gone to bed for the night.
She still got straight up out of bed and welcomed us into her room for a visit.
She was so enthusiastic and appreciative of visitors. She gave us a
grand tour of the whole nursing home facility and gave the kids crackers and juice.


  1. What a beautiful remembrance Angie! Iearned things from your post that I have honestly never heard before. She accomplished so much, and stayed strong through lots of trying times. Jed and I had a hard time sleeping last night, so we just cuddled and talked about grandma and grandpa's reunion. It was very sweet. I so love getting your perspective of things as the oldest child, since Jed was on the younger end, and so much changed when he got to an age he could remember. Love you so much. Also Jed said you were sending leis, but we weren't sure if that meant you were making the special delivery yourself or mailing. I do hope for the special delivery by you.

  2. Love this!! She sounds so incredibly special !