|Grandpa Don holding my little sister. Me with Grandma Chris, sticking my tongue out for some juvenile reason.|
The warm happy feeling of being at the farm and coming down the stairs to the smell of egg pancakes. Grandpa and Grandpa at the table playing rummy or gin. Envelopes that used to contain bills long since paid, now used as score cards for their games. The slant of the handwriting written in thick pencil. The taste of the homemade jam. The sound of the old rotary phone. The puffs of dust as we ran down the road so we could be spun around on the wagon wheel type mailbox.
|High School Graduation (the hair is still fluffy)|
Picking peaches, canning peaches, eating peaches. Eating canned peaches literally every time we were at the farm because Grandma's canned peaches made the world a better place. So did eggnog with sprite and orange juice in blue thumbprint depression glasses.
The excitement of Christmas at Grandma and Grandpa's house. Hearing actual sleighbells and knowing Santa was coming. Sometimes sleeping in the cold parlor on Christmas Eve. The rattle of the parlor's french doors and their ancient glass that sometimes broke. The rocker glider with the fascinating mechanics. The summer we sat on the porch eating beets that I hated and flinging them at the side of the house to see them leave bright purple streaks on white painted wood. Never getting in trouble for it. The nervousness I felt when I told Grandma I wet the bed one night during the summer before middle school only to have her make no big deal of it.
|Me and Grandma at the Lake (I can't find the making out picture)|
|Grandma with Baby Serena|
The love she and Grandpa shared. Him telling everyone he was married 50 years to the wrong woman and her scolding him while they both laughed. Grandma joking about Grandpa helping her in the shower after a surgery just because he wanted to see her naked. The shudders and giggles from the teenage grandchildren. The light that left her eyes when Grandpa Don went home to Jesus more than a decade before she did. The Thanksgiving in Utah after he died when she celebrated with my little family in a random house that my sister in laws lived in with their weird roommates.
The joy on her face each time she held one of my babies. The snuggles she gave each one of her great grandchildren. The sparkle in her eyes as she watched these precious little ones play and grow. My children may not have known her well, but she LOVED them.
The last time I saw her. A year and a half ago at the lake cabin where she confessed to everyone she was 90, when she was in fact a decade younger. I administered her insulin for her diabetes for two days while she assured me I was doing it correctly before realizing on the third day, I had not been giving her insulin at all because I was in fact not doing it correctly. Her moments of lucidity in the morning while she drank her coffee before she took about a gagillion pills and a fog came over her. Reminding her to pee before she went to bed so she wouldn't wet it. Taking care of her wet sheets as she once did mine and not making a big deal of it. The far off look she had as she watched her crazy young posterity play in the same place her children did. The guilt and sadness we all felt knowing it would be her last time at the lake with us because it was so much work and stress to care for her.
|Grandma with my three girls|
|A bit blurry, but look how happy! Elsa, Mom and Grandma|
I hope to do better and to be better and to honor her legacy. My grandmother, Ellen Christine Filan Heilsberg was a simple farm wife who raised four children and drove school bus part time in a small town. She didn't have a fancy or important title but she knew what was important. She loved Jesus and her family and she did her best to do right by them. She canned the world's best peaches and made fantastic zucchini casserole. She wasn't glamorous but she was beautiful. She was the kind of beautiful that we need more of in this world. I will miss her, but I will not forget her and I will hold tight to the wonderful times we had together as I go out and try to replicate it with my children the best I can.
I love you Grandma, I hope heaven has all the kinds of food you like and that you don't have to cook them yourself.