The first characteristic that comes to mind when I think of Grandma Evelyn is generosity. She was the one who surprised me with the My Little Pony castle for my 9th Christmas, who bought me three pairs of Guess jeans for high school, who encouraged good grades with a $100 check for straight As and my love of reading with boxes upon boxes of Harlequin historicals (yes, I used to read romances!), who sent me 8 boxes of Great Grains Crunchy Pecan cereal when I was living in Japan ... and so much more.
My mom and grandma before I was born
But it wasn’t just material things. She was generous with her time – calling me often, writing letters at least once a week, frying me up the most delicious hamburgers and garden-grown okra when I came to stay with her, visiting our family in all the various places we lived over the years, and performing selfless acts like organizing a truck to bring all my stuff to her house when I moved to Germany.
And I was not the only one who benefited from her generosity. She bought groceries and other necessities for our family and for charities like DoorStep constantly. She organized a lot of activities at her church and made baby blankets and quilts all the time. She also stayed with my mother nearly the whole time she was in the home hospice program.
My brothers and me with Grandpa Dale and Grandma Evelyn in front of our house in Sunset, Utah
But what I always admired the most about Grandma Evelyn was her perseverance and fighting spirit. Despite the many trials she went through in her life – moving around constantly as a child, the early deaths of her parents, having to take care of a sister who was mentally handicapped, losing a fiancée in World War II, and having two adult children and her husband precede her in death among them – Grandma Evelyn never played the victim. Both she and my mother were strong role models for me, and though they never quite managed to interest me in gardening, cooking, and sewing, they taught me much which I carry within my heart today.
Not that Grandma Evelyn wasn’t without her endearing eccentricies. When she liked something, she bought A LOT of it – whether it was the Precious Moments figurines which filled various china cabinets through her house, the antique steamer trunks stacked up in her basement, a literal wall of Slim Fast she got for my brother Nick when he decided to go on a diet, the “brass” Christmas (where Uncle Kent instituted the “brass tax”), or the 3 limited edition Beanie Baby pigs she gave Daniel one year (and the 3 concrete pigs she gave him the next).
Grandma Evelyn and Grandpa Dale with me after my HS graduation
Because of her fight with Alzheimer’s the past few years, she wasn’t able to attend my wedding and the last time she recognized me was nearly three years ago. But even in her worsening condition, her sweet spirit and wit shined through.
I will miss you Grandma, and so will so many others. You may be gone, but your legacy lives on.