Monday, March 12, 2007

Iris

So, this is the second post of the day. The last post was full of fun and joy. This one is a bit more contemplative.

When my dad was seven years old, his mother developed cancer of the brain, and died, leaving six children ages 18 (or so) to 3 (or so). My dad doesn't really talk about those days too much, especially about his mother. I think part of the reason is that it makes him sad, and part of the reason is that he really doesn't remember that much. I don't know about you, but my memories from about age 9 or so and younger are pretty hazy.

Anyway, a few years later, my grandfather met an amazing woman. Her name was Iris, and she was a friend of my grandfather's sister. She was living in Denver at the time that they met, and my grandfather was living in Cedar City. They met in Salt Lake, on what was kind of like a blind date, in the loosest sense. They got along quite well, and as Iris went back to Denver and my grandpa went back to Cedar, they continued to write letters back and forth.

Well, to make a long-ish story shorter, they got married. Iris moved from big Denver to very little Cedar City, and became an instant mother to six children. Iris was older when she married, I think even a little bit older than I am now. I've had my fair share of adventure in the past 15 years, but Iris' life makes my life look absolutely hum-drum. She worked for the FBI, she was on the Young Women General Board of the LDS Church, she wrote and published numerous articles and poems. She lived in Salt Lake City, and Denver, and Washington D.C. She was used to a certain lifestyle, and and certain freedom, and she gave it all up to move to a very little town in Southern Utah and take care of a very big family.

I asked grandma one time how she had managed to make such a big change, and be "okay" with taking care of all those children. She looked at me with a wry smile (one that I saw many times) and said, "Well, I knew that I loved Elwood, and the kids were kind of a bonus." She sent me a card about a week after that conversation, gently berating me for even having to ask, and cautioning me not to discount any men (in my dating adventures) just because he might have a child or two (or six).

Grandma and grandpa soon had another child, and so the family grew to seven children, four boys and three girls. They all married, and last December I was able to see almost all of them as we gathered at my uncles house to celebrate Iris' 89th (I think) birthday. It was a great evening with good food, and even better entertainment. My uncle had asked that we have a talent show of sorts, and so there were songs, and piano solos, and poems read. It was a great night. Eric and I had been engaged for a week or so at that point, and that night he met my grandma, and about thirty other relatives, all for the first time.

A few years ago, when grandma started getting old, and started losing some of the freedoms that she was used to (driving, living alone, all that good stuff), I decided that the least I could do for her would be to write her a letter a few times a month. I was a little intimidated to do it, because she was a writer by trade and training, and I wasn't. But, I did it anyway. By the time I started, grandma was too frail to do much writing on her own. So, we didn't exactly have a correspondence between us. But, whenever I would see her (which was nearly every time I was in Cedar City), she would hug me and tell me how much she appreciated my letters.

The opportunity to write those letters has meant the world to me. It means the world to me especially now, because on Saturday night my mother called to tell me that grandma had passed away peacefully and without pain. I'll miss her. I've been missing her for about five years now. But, how grateful I am for the memories I have of her and our time together. And how very very grateful I am that she left a life of freedom and fun to be my dad's mother, and my grandmother.

I will always be grateful for that.

2 comments:

melissa c said...

What a beautiful story. I love that. That level of commitment and sacrifice is amazing.

amy greenway said...

I don't even know her and I'm a little teary eyed. What a neat life she lived. Grandma's are the best!

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