Grandma Brock passed away last night.
It was both expected and sudden. She has been struggling with Alzheimers for almost ten years. Three weeks ago when I was in Arizona I received an email from my parents about another thing entirely, but as a post script they mentioned that Grandma had been put on hospice. I planned to go down this very weekend to see her. I was too late.
How do you write about Grandma Brock? She was a woman of strong conviction with little patience for those who didn’t see the magnitude of our every day lives. I am too much like her in this way . . . my patience can run thin with the frailty of souls I’m afraid.
She was a woman of great adventure. The tales of her life as a spy for the FBI, her desire to serve in the peace core, and even her missionary service for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the stuff of legends.
But she also lived a life that was so . . . ordinary. A school teacher in LA, she raised seven children and lived to see 45 grandchildren come into the world. She served in the Church, she served her family, she served her community.
She loved politics to a fault – I think she gave us all lifetime memberships to the NRA one year for Christmas. And in college I remember being asked to proof read letters intended for senators.
She loved books. I have an old leather bound book sitting on my dresser – “Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man” with an inscription on the coverpage, and a typed out note- faded now, with an admonishment to be a “reader” in my life. The book was set aside for me years . . . years before I was old enough to read it.
And Grandma loved sunflowers.
In her kitchen she had an old stool, painted green with a sunflower on the seat. And on the wall of the kitchen a painting of a sunflower field. It made my heart sigh when I saw the same painting above her bed at the nursing home. I remember sitting on the stool in her kitchen, munching on chips and home-made salsa, talking about family, our history. They were stories that balmed my soul and made me feel connected to something so much bigger than myself, at times when I felt so small. The sunflowers that I grow every year in my garden are more than just a colorful dash to my backyard, they are a gentle reminder of my past and a gift I give to my children to connect them to that which goes before.
I received word just twenty minutes after her passing. I sat on the couch, Oaklee in my arms, my own boys clamoring for my attention, and wondered at the eternal moments taking place beyond: my grandma reunited with her own loved ones, the ones I never knew. I wondered about the “paperwork” so to speak. The waiting at the gates for St. Peter to find your name in his Eternal Book. And I have no real suspicion that that is how it goes. But I wondered at the awe my grandmother must be feeling as all things are revealed to her.
And I had a very distinct feeling that she felt it was even more magnificent than she had supposed.