I was certainly spoiled this Christmas and received some wonderful gifts. But my most special gift was from my mother. She gave me, my dad, and my sister a painted canvas that had a line from one of my grandparents’ most favorite hymns, “How Great Thou Art”.
I was so close with them, especially my grandmother, and I miss them both terribly. Out of all the amazing people in my life, I feel like my grandma Betty is one of the very, very few who completely and totally just got me. She knew what I was thinking and feeling and appreciated me for ME all.the.time, no questions asked. She never wished for me to be anything different than just myself and always, always encouraged me to follow my heart.
For example, one day I was bringing her her weekly groceries (as I did most weeks during the last 3 months or so she was with us), and as I was putting them away in her kitchen, she said from across the room, “Steph, I just love you in that outfit. It suits you and is just like your personality – sporty and fun.” Know what I was wearing? A white Indiana University hoodie, my black Adidas warm-ups, sneakers, and my hair was in a bun on top of my head 🙂 I’ll never forget that moment.
Another time, in college, I made the decision to leave my sorority – a decision that was unpopular with several close family members. It was difficult to navigate those waters, feeling like I was letting folks down for one of the first times in my life. But I felt it was the right decision for me. And she knew it, too. In a note from grandma that I keep on my bookshelf, she wrote:
“My dearest Steph – You must have had a tough year, trying to be a good family member, knowing everyone was so happy for you making a good sorority. But honey, you are right in following your own heart. You can’t live your life for the sake of our pride. I love you honey, and we will always always be proud of you. You are not a conformist – you are an individualist.”
They were both such special people, and they made such a huge lasting impact on all of our family members and their community. That’s why the gift was so awesome – a reminder not only of faith, but also of them 🙂
We put it right below the cross they had hanging just outside their family room, next to what I think is one of the best pictures ever, of anyone – it’s just the two of them on the beach outside the home we rented every summer, looking lovingly at each other and laughing. When I see that photo, I can hear them laugh. And that always brings a smile to my face.
Thanks mom for one of the best gifts ever!
And big props to the creator of the artwork, A Lettered Life.