Sunday, April 30, 2017

Letter to Bumma

This is what I shared at Bumma's Celebration of Life Service on April 19th. I penned it in the form of a letter to her because I knew that's the way I could most intimately share my heart. If you recall, I wrote a letter to Lily that was shared at her Celebration of Life Service as well. That's where I got my idea to do this. It's really weird and sad that the person I wrote these words for will never hear or read them herself.



My Dearest Grandmother... my Bumma,

When it comes to expressing my heart, I'm not shy or one who finds it difficult to do so, yet when I sat down to tell you what you mean to me, I felt stumped. I realized that all the words in the world could never fully convey the depth of my love for you and my sorrow that I must now live the rest of my life without you. My heart is broken into pieces that will only ever be put back together again when I see you again. And I know I will. But that doesn't take away the pain of life without you now. That doesn't make me wish any less for you to be there for those important family milestones... graduations, weddings, births, and so forth.

I'll always wish for one more day together, one more "I love you" exchanged, one more memory made, one more picture taken, one more laugh shared, one more inside joke. But I know I'd always wish for more, no matter how much more is more.

So many memories are flooding through my heart, some more notable and others just small moments shared between us.

How you'd pat your hand on my leg, how you called me "Wose" or "Wosie" because my middle name is Rose, going with you to Compassionate Friends meetings, accompanying you to the Pregnancy Center Banquets, when Aunt Nana brought you to the beach in North Carolina to hear me speak at *my* first banquet, on your BIRTHDAY no less! The way you faithfully prayed for my future husband and for God's will in my life. The way you were a constant listening ear and godly perspective.

Mundane moments felt so special with you... helping you pick out your hip new glasses, you teaching Emmaline and me to knit at Virginia Beach, getting smoothies together in the Summer and that time we got caught in a rainstorm, chauffeuring you around town in your white Buick, with the windows down, music on the radio, and us just chit-chatting away, going to Chile's Peach Orchard and Mint Springs, laughing about "lap cat" and how much she loved nestling up on your lap over anyone else's. Even animals could sense how wonderful and trustworthy you were. Like how Adam's dog Bernerd loved you too and didn't realize he was simply too large as a St. Bernard to get on your lap like he wished he could. How you liked me to give you manicures and pedicures and how I'd paint your nails bright colors in the Summer. It was a blessing to serve you even in something so small. You being a little fashionista and dressed so beautifully, with layers, patterns, colors, and pins galore, outfitted of course by The Olive Tree. Was there really even a reason to ask you where something came from? ;) Bumma, in your 80s, you had way more energy than I do in my 20s. You were tough as nails, as Joseph liked to say. I can still hear you say, "for Heaven's sake!"

You loved butterflies, which those who were close to you knew well. And I do as too. That was a special thing for us to share. Even though you loved butterflies too, they made you think of me, and you so thoughtfully gave me the butterfly things you came across.

Many of my fondest memories are those my siblings and cousins and I share with you. We adore you and had such fun with you. You always tolerated us and most of the time even *enjoyed* our crazy shenanigans... we loved how you'd make us your famous Mocoa Cocoa and how I was convinced nobody else could ever make it as delicious as you... I'm sure the special ingredient was your love. We had numerous special times at Massanutten Resort through the decades we annually went there... hiking to "our tree" where we engraved our initials, going to Le Club where we'd relax in the hot-tub and have ping-pong tournaments. Spending magical Christmases together there. How you'd wake up at the crack of dawn and we'd hear you slipping along in your green slippers to the kitchen. You taking us to shop at The Green Olive Tree and how it nearly fully clothed us for our entire lives. How you'd always be collecting things for us that you saw there that reminded you of us and the way it warmed our hearts knowing you were always thinking of us. How we joked that we had the "VIP NVB" pass when we'd shop after closing hours. You taking us all out to eat at Sal's Pizza in Crozet and how we'd always order the same thing - mozzarella sticks and plain cheese pizza. Oh, with lots of ranch, which I got you hooked on too. :) Watching the Olympics with you and Adam last August and how we'd all 3 curl up together on that little love seat and we'd eat ice cream and get nervous holding each other's hands as we watched our favorite American athletes compete. Going to Greensboro last year for Anna's Nationals Swim Meet and how much fun we had there and how proud we were of her. How gullible you were. It was really a reflection of how you trusted without reservation. How Daniel and I would say your name... One of us would start with "Bum" and the other would complete "ma" to keep you from getting frustrated. ;) How you always had the best stories that we'd get you to tell over and over... like how your childhood friend Teddy tried kissing you at age 12 or 13 in a barn and you ran away wondering what was wrong with him?! We'd still joke about Teddy and how he actually *did* sneak that kiss in, but you just left that part out. ;)Your tours around the area that you loved so much, especially Greenwood where you were born and raised. How you'd even take my friends and I on tours, even friends who passed through and wanted to meet you when I wasn't around. You never met a stranger and loved it that way. Like that one time you hopped in the RV with some of our friends from North Carolina and gladly took them all around telling them all about the area. My mom said you were Crozet's tour guide extraordinaire. We'd joke that every tree on every corner had a story behind it. How we'd jokingly call you "Nancy" even though you preferred "Nancy Virginia" just because your response was so funny. How much Emmaline resembles you and how I bet she will even more so as the decades pass and how sweet it'll be to see you in her. How Hope called you "Gran Fu-Fu" and how you'd give her anything Chinese-related you'd come across. How we had to teach you the same things over and over again on your smart phone because your brain was simply raised at another time that didn't grasp all this tech stuff. But it wasn't annoying, but absolutely adorable. I'm so thankful I have your other grandchildren to reminisce with, cry with, laugh with, and miss you with.

Bumma, each and every memory feels like a treasure to protect. I never want to forget a single thing. I fear the memories fading or disappearing over time.

We always had a special bond through my childhood and teenage years. But that bond deepened in an indescribable way when I lost my baby. You understood my heart, my feelings, my pain in a way nobody else could, because you too had put a baby daughter in the ground. You loved Lily so much too, which was evidenced in the poems you wrote her, how you faithfully decorated her special spot for me since I live out of state, and even put up with my at times perfectionist tendencies, among many other things. I realized that you loved Lily of course, but you also loved her and tangibly showed that love partly because of how deeply you loved me. The two are so intricately tied together. When Aunt Nana told me a couple days ago how often you'd want to go by the cemetery to check on things and make sure everything was beautiful and tidy, it melted my heart.

You were much more than "just" a grandmother to me. I feel I am grieving the loss of so many relationships with losing you. You're my grandmother, of course. But also one of my very dearest and closest friends. My sister in Christ. My mentor. My grief counselor.

You were one of the few people in this world who I felt completely comfortable with, completely myself, completely seen, understood, and known... and yet completely loved despite all my flaws. You were one of the people who will love me most in the span of my lifetime. You loved me since the time I was merely a desire and a prayer in my mother's heart.

I close my eyes and I picture your face, your hands, your voice... all so familiar, so known by my brain and my heart. And I can hardly grasp that I will never experience these parts of you again. But I am incredibly thankful for each tangible thing I have of you. What a gift it was to discover those voicemail recordings I have from you on my phone. I never want to delete any of them. When I need to feel you near, I will listen to these messages, to the sound of your voice and how you'd always start and end your messages in the same sweet way. I will watch the videos, look at the pictures, and read your letters, with your chicken scratch that people had a difficult time deciphering... but I learned the art of it. ;)

I feel like I can still feel you, even though I also *don't* feel you anymore. I feel our bond, not severed by the separation of realms. Though I no longer feel your life in this world anymore. But my spirit knows yours is alive in Heaven. That's why it's difficult for me to figure out how I talk about you... I don't like to say you "were" something, but that you still are. Because life in Jesus never ends.

With each vivid memory I've shared and how I've attempted to describe how much you mean to me and how special you are, I know that everyone else in your life could share their own priceless memories too. I know that each person feels such a depth of love for you as well. I'm merely representing one relationship and story out of man. You are unforgettable, even to those who briefly met you. My friend Elise said you felt like a grandmother to her as well. You had enough love for anyone who was willing to receive it.

I told everyone about you. It is no secret how much you mean to me. But of course you know that. You were my #1 blog follower, as I called you. It was always so comforting somehow in knowing anytime I shared something, I could count on you eagerly reading my words on the other end. I loved that you kept up with my life and loved my blog so much. It hurts knowing you won't ever know another thing I post. You won't be there on your iPhone 6 checking your email for the updates.

Everywhere I went with you, people knew you. We jokingly called you the "Queen of Crozet" and said anytime we wanted or needed something, all we needed to say was that *you* were our family member. ;) When Thomas was 3 or 4, he asked why you were so famous! When I was in public with you, people would light up when they saw you and smother you with hugs and joyfully say, "Oh, Nancy Virginia!" They'd smile at me and tell me what an angel you were. But nobody needed to tell me that. I know how incredibly blessed I am to have you for a grandmother.

Because of how you loved reading my writing, I knew I had to send you off with a letter, safely tucked beside you in your casket, under your sweater by your heart. And I knew that I needed to share the letter.

It's going to take a while to retrain my brain from thinking I need to tell you something or invite you somewhere with us. I've had you all my life and it's bizarre trying to adjust to you not being there, especially so suddenly and unexpectedly. Each day without you brings multiple realizations of things we'll never do or experience again. Each thing is something new to grieve.

Our family matriarch, you were the glue that has held us all together. What are we going to do without you? You make each of us want to live in such a way that honors you and would make you pleased. I don't say proud because you were always proud of us, simply because we are *yours.* We promise to always get together on a regular basis and have family unity the way you earnestly desires and prayed for.

You were always there for my special moments and milestones, and now I'm rejoicing with you over yours... graduating your earthly journey and making it Home.

I promise I will never forget you. I will always honor you and celebrate your life. I will share about you with others. I will decorate your special spot at the cemetery beautifully. I will continue to love you in the only ways I can now. How will I share with my future children about their great-grandmother when all I want is for them to know you themselves? Are you reduced now to memories and stories? You are in those things, yes, but you are even richer than mere memories and even more deeply embedded into everything. You are in the legacy of faith in our family. You are in each conversation of silliness and healing and love. You are in each dream and hope for the future. You are in all our hearts and lives.

Each of us who love you, and will carry this ache of missing you, rest in the comfort of knowing you finally made it "on your way" to your final destination. The ripple effects of your well-lived life will span generations.

Give Lily a hug for me. It brings me so much comfort to think that two of my favorite people now have each other.

All my love forever and ever, until we meet again and pick up just where we left off, your favorite "eldest" granddaughter, Hannah Wosie 
❤️

And again, here is the tribute video made with love for our grandmother.

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This post left me:

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful, my sister. How I wish I had met her! I was thinking of you today and prayed for you with a friend just a few minutes ago! I'm so glad and thankful that you posted today since you were on my heart.

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