It’s taken me a while to say something about this.  And this is hardly a tribute worthy of her.  I will try again once I feel like I have the words to describe her.

My grandmother passed away Thursday, April 3rd during the night.  She had been suffering for years from cirrhosis of the liver–presumably caused by Hepatitis C that she contracted while volunteering at a hospital in her youth (safety and sanitation was not as rigorous as it is now).  Her body began shutting down years ago and she was finally able to find peace from all her pain.

I have to write a true essay to describe the kind of woman she was–this short summary won’t suffice.  At the most basic, she dedicated her life to serving others.  She volunteered countless hours feeding the poor through Care Corps; comforting those who had lost loved ones by organizing and cooking for funerals; clothed the poor through a mission to provide for a reservation in Nebraska; volunteering as a nurse assistant at the local hospital and nursing home; served as a role model for young women (including her own daughters and grand-daughters) through being a leader with the Girl Scouts; was the backbone of our church; served with the American Red Cross Blood Drive for 24 years.  Her contributions are endless.

I had always known what a strong leader she was but I didn’t grasp it until her funeral–between the visitation and funeral over 300 people came to pay their respects to her.  Going through memorabilia, photos, and other keepsakes–we found letters, hundreds of letters thanking her for this or that favor, her volunteer work, her friendship.

She’s left behind a huge hole both in the community and in our family.  But I’m proud that her spirit of giving has manifested in all of her children and grandchildren.  I’m proud to dedicate my life to helping others knowing that she was the one who first taught me to give back–that charity and kindness, no matter how small, should guide every action.

It hasn’t hit me yet how much I’ve lost.  But I know she’s still there.  She lives on in the memories countless people have curated lovingly of her.