A few months ago, I did a little series (for lack of a better word) where I wrote some of my memories of my grandparents. As you might remember from reading this post, my grandfather's first wife (who was the mother of my father) passed away when my father was around seven years old, long before I was able to meet her. Her name was Florence Decker Corry, and she died of a brain tumor when she was only about 43 years old (or so).
Although I don't have any memories of my Grandma Florence, I do have some definite thoughts and feelings and experiences that have to do with her. Over the weekend I spent some time reading the personal history of my Grandma Iris (my grandfather's second wife), and last night I started on some papers I was given containing memories of my Grandma Florence, written by her children, my aunts and uncles. That's probably why it's on my mind just now.
Now, as you might imagine, it's been hard for me to get an unbiased picture of my Grandmother Florence. I've never heard anyone say a bad word about her, to be honest. Surely some of that is because she died at such a young age, and we have a tendency to remember the good in people, particularly if there is a lot of good to remember. I'm sure she had her faults, like we all do. For me though, I admit that I would rather think of her strengths and virtues, those that I have read about, and heard about, than try to imagine or deduce some fault or weakness by reading between the lines.
Perhaps the most objective viewpoint I've ever received on my Grandmother Florence was given to me about 15 years ago or so (as you will soon see, this viewpoint isn't exactly objective, but it is from a person who wasn't related to me, and so it's about as close to objectivity as I've ever gotten). I was teaching a lesson in Relief Society, and as part of the lesson, I showed an old picture of my grandmother. I think I made the point that although she had died before I was able to meet her, the legacy and the example that she left behind her was an inspiration to me, and that even after her death, she was helping me to strive to be a better person. After the lesson was over, an older woman (Anne) who had been in the congregation approached me. She told me that she had known my grandmother very well. Anne had been a teenager, and my grandmother had been her teacher (much like the role my mother filled in a post I wrote here). She told me that Florence had been full of love for all the girls, and that she (Anne) had wanted to grow up to be like her.
I think about that sometimes, and I think about the things I've read about her, and I try to see traits that she might have passed down to me. She was a little bit of a jokester, and used to be very playful with her children, laughing with them and playing little (harmless) pranks on them. As I look at my sister and brothers, I see much of that in the way they are raising their kids as well.
Another thing that I can see is that in her life, her family was probably her first priority. She seemed to revel in being a mother and being there for her children to talk with and confide in. When there were misunderstandings, or a child wasn't behaving as they should, she would "talk turkey" with them, explaining why she needed them to do (or not to do) this or that, and most of the time, her children would get back in line, if only out of respect for her. She had absolute respect for her husband and her children, and didn't talk down to them or belittle them in any way.
I don't know how much like that I'll be with my own family. I do have the utmost respect and love for my Eric, and I revel in the laughing and teasing that we do one with another. As you can probably tell from the address of this blog, I absolutely adore the feeling I get when I'm laughing, and I tend to find reasons to do it quite often. I try to have unconditional love for others, (although I do far far better at having conditional love, you know?) As far as family and priorities go, I really hope that I will make the sacrifice and effort to put my own family at the top of my own personal list as well. I guess time will tell how I do at that.
Along with thinking about all of this, I sometimes (when I'm trying to go to sleep at night and need to get my mind focused on other things besides the worries and/or stresses of the day) will imagine what it will be like when I am able to meet my Grandma Florence up in Heaven. I think she'll be glad to see me, and I think I'll recognize her and be glad to see her. Especially, I like to think that when we meet, we'll each give each other a big old family-size hug. And, as we're hugging, I think that maybe, just maybe, I'll be able to sense that she's been watching out for me, and loving me all along the way, even though I couldn't see her.
Or, maybe I can sense that already.
I still can hardly wait for the hug though.