Friday, March 2, 2018


Two and a half years ago, we were told that Mimi had a few months to live. There is nothing quite like being told that time is short to inspire you to prioritize time with someone. Every birthday, every holiday, every week we have tried to do special things for Mimi. We were so lucky to have the extra years. I really feel like we made them count. My kids got that time with Mimi. My Mom has orchestrated most of these events and created moments and  memories for all of us just as she has always done. We just celebrated Mimi's birthday a few weeks ago and she was always happiest when in the center of a family celebration. 

On Sunday we went to visit my Mimi and she was mostly well but two days later she caught pneumonia. For the past few days we have sat by her side as many hours as possible. She could respond a little and tell us she loved us. Yesterday she woke up for a few seconds and called me precious. This morning she slipped away to be with her Heavenly Father and family on the other side. She passed away in a room covered in hand painted snowflakes, crazy St. Patrick's Day decor, photos of her family and mementos of love. Her walls have been covered every month by my kids who just switched out her decorations and added photos on Sunday. 

When I was a kid Mimi would tell me repeatedly that "If every little girl in the world lined up and held hands and I could choose one to be my granddaughter, I would choose you." It seems like a silly statement but I believed her every single time she said it. That kind of love leaves a mark. Everyone should be told sometime that you are loved exactly as you are and that you are unique and important. She would call me her flower and sing me a song until I was much too old to have goodnight songs. Some of my highschool (and maybe college) friends probably remember me being pulled aside for a song. She would pinch the hair at the base of my head and tell me I was sweet. 

She was a proud Southerner. She loved Florida and the beach. She dreamed of having her feet in the sand at all times. She wanted a bite of onion with everything. She had blonde hair for decades that she always reminded us was "tinted" and not "dyed". This was an important distinction. She kept a physician's desk reference and was fond of starting advice with "Doctors, MDs have said:...." Everything was a "blessing in disguise." She collected recipes and cookbooks but didn't cook much. She was pretty computer savvy for her age and spent hours tinkering on her computer, printing out every email and working on geneology. She once told me that she had stayed up all night with her computer because it was coming down with a virus. She put a blanket over it. 

Mimi was a devotee of Coke and her last meal was grits and coke with a syringe. She would threaten to beat up anyone who was unkind to us and left behind lipstick marks when she kissed us on the cheek. She is often looking to the side of the camera in photos because she thought it was "unnatural" to look. She always had candy in her purse and marshmallows in her cupboard.  She lived mostly on peanut butter and cheese crackers. She never minded when we snooped through her things. She would always write in a book before she gave it to  you so it would make you think of her. She was an LDS temple worker and proud of her genealogy work.

Mimi bought us a stuffed bunny every year for Easter, right up until I had my own children. Then she carried on the tradition with her great grandkids. She would tell the same story every year of hearing a little bunny calling her in the store. It would be calling their name and she would have no choice but to bring the poor bunny home for them. The story hasn't changed in over 30 years. 

Mimi would come to every event when we were young, no matter how small the event. Church talk, school award, concert etc. It didn't matter what it was, she was there. She came to soccer games and concerts and many events for my children. When she stopped being mobile and had a harder time being away from home it felt especially odd and sad because she had always been there for EVERYTHING. My daughters took it hard when Mimi couldn't come to a choir concert because they knew she would love it and there were tears that she was no longer able to attend.

I would sleepover at Mimi's house and we would bake cakes. We could never figure out how to get the cake out of the pan without it falling to pieces. So we gave up and would purposely make "crumbly bumbly" cakes each time. It would be a pile of smooshed cake and frosting. It tasted great. We would watch The Golden Girls together and she would take me to the park. She always insisted that I properly introduce myself to other kids on the playground and ask for their name. She told me I was going to be a "Proper Southerner" and learn friendliness even if I lived in Utah. Ha Ha. She always told me to smile at people when I walk down the street and when I enter a room. She said Southern hospitality was in our blood and we had a responsibility. 
She would always have me take the curlers out of her hair and try and style it for her. She would let Josh and I paint her face on Halloween. She moved away briefly when I was in highschool but she still wanted to be involved in the little events of my life. We talked on the phone a lot and she sent little packages. She gave me a special necklace for my senior prom that I later wore to my wedding. It is a treasured possession.

Mimi had grit. She had war wounds from hard times that became a sometimes impenetrable armor. As an adult I have realized some of the sacrifices she made and how strong she had to be to get through certain times in her life. She was a single mom in a time that didn't accept single moms. She made hard choices and tried to stick to her standards even when it was difficult. She was a wonderful seamstress and supported herself, my mom and aunt by sewing bras. She held several patents and was proud of her hard work. 

I think Mimi knew I would love art before I did. She would clip little drawing tutorials out of the newspaper and we would sit on her porch overlooking a park and draw little figures and owls. She was a fierce advocate for developing your talents. Talent was not to be wasted and it was to be used to glorify our Heavenly Father. 

When I was in highschool, my art class needed a model to come and sit several times a week for a couple of months. It wasn't a very fun volunteer position. Mimi came and let dozens of high school students paint mediocre portraits of her. She would attempt to sit perfectly still and not let the corners of her mouth twitch listening to our conversations. I think all of my friends in my neighborhood and school knew who my Mimi was and they all called her Mimi. I doubt many of them knew her given name. She was just Mimi. My girls' friends all call her Mimi as well.

Mimi was a wonderful singer. When I was very small she would sing and my mom would accompany her on our piano. She would let me stand next to her and hold her hand (and sometimes sing with her.) She would always talk about her Dad being a talented pianist and the love she had for music. She listened to opera in the car. She was extremely proud of any musicality in her offspring. My Mom being a talented violinist was one of the highlights of Mimi's life. My siblings and cousins have musical talent and it was a source of great joy to Mimi. She told us repeatedly that she had been promised in a blessing that her progeny would carry on her musical talent for generations.  My girls went to her assisted living home on Sunday to play piano for her because it was her favorite thing. They've played something for her at least monthly for the last while. She never got tired of hearing them play. We've even had neighbors come and play with my girls and she loved it all. Even on rough days, Mimi loved music. She brought me flowers to recitals even when I was tiny. I still remember how special that made me feel. She brought flowers for my girls to their recitals. I hope it made them feel the same way.

Every year Mimi would take us to collect leaves in the mountains. I still insist on driving up every year to collect leaves because of this memory. She would keep these three hideous gold sweaters in her trunk for us to wear. She took us to the top of the Snowbird tram a couple of times to look at the leaves. She loved color and she thought the mountains were most beautiful with a bright blue sky and colored leaves. The color turquoise will always make me think of her.

Mimi was afraid of water but she took us swimming many times. She had some wild swim caps and she would swim a couple of very steady laps before sitting on the side of the pool. She would yell "Oi!" everytime my brothers and I would dunk each other or do something crazy. She still yelled Oi when my girls would perform crazy tricks for her. Adalyn liked to drop into the splits suddenly because it made Mimi scream. Mimi even swam with her great grandkids a few times. She would sit on the steps and cheer while they showed off their swimming skills. She got in the pool during her 80th birthday party.

Mimi's 80th birthday and a family party this past summer were some of the highlights of her life. She was so proud of being a great grandmother. 

She was one of the first few people to meet both of my daughters. She just met her most recent great grandbaby last month.  My girls had a favorite tradition with her called "chicken nugget picnics". She loved to take them to the park across the street from her house. We got her a picnic set so that we could take food and somehow my kids got it into their heads that it absolutely HAD to be chicken nuggets or it was not a picnic with Mimi. So we celebrated many many nugget picnics. 

She liked animals and buying us pets, most of which died and had to be replaced. She would take us shopping for fish. She bought my girls their first fish. She got us started on rabbits. She would take us to the zoo and to feed ducks. She managed to get herself bit several times. She would feed a giant heron that lived behind her house during her brief move back to Florida. 

Mimi was one of a kind. I've been so lucky to have grandparents who were a big part of my life. I feel heavy knowing that my cheerleaders are no longer as accessible to me.

I see things that got passed down to my Mom from Mimi. My mom always said Mimi was the parent who always let her friends come over and stay the night and always wanted them around. My Mom passed that on with me. She always drove my friends and I places and let me have hundreds of slumber parties and invite everyone back to my house. Always. One of the things I love most about my Mimi is that she gave me my Mom. 

Mimi- I love you. Thank you for being such a big part of my life. I'm sure the reception you received on the other side was exactly what you hoped. 


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