Tribute to Grandma Phyllis

Grandma smiled. She listened. Her voice and her laugh were gentle, like her. She radiated love. You were drawn to her. In her company, you’d find acceptance, compassion, a shoulder to cry on, a friend who listened, sympathy, encouraging words, and a smile. Always a smile.

One of my earliest memories of her was when she and Grandpa Bonnie would come to Evansville and bring their black lab, Gypsy. I couldn’t wait to sit beside her. I was fascinated with the kindness and gentleness in her voice. I loved all of my grandparents, my family, and friends, but I had never known anyone who spoke with such a sweet and loving tone. I remember sitting beside her on the patio swing and her handing out Juicy fruit chewing gum to us. I wanted to soak up every moment with her. Early on, I recognized that she was a unique individual in this crazy world.

I remember being jealous of my cousins in Indianapolis, who could see her whenever they wanted. In fact, she was who I thought of the one time I wanted an escape from my parental units. I was probably about seven-years-old, maybe eight. All I know is, I had been sent to my room by Mom, possibly a punishment I deserved, but who really knows. Being the middle child is a lot harder than you’d think. 😉 So anyways, I’m in my room on Scenic Drive, and I am fuming from the injustice of it all. Mom just didn’t understand my point of view. Instantly, I knew who would understand. There was a phone in my room. And I made the decision right then. I was running away. I’d heard enough horror stories of kids being abducted by this point though, and I’ve always been sort of a chicken or the weakest link in the sibling tribe, so I decided I couldn’t run away the traditional method. It was too risky. But Grandma Phyllis, if she heard my story, and I knew she’d listen and understand, she’d drive from Indianapolis and pick me up.

The funny part is, I loved my Grandma and Grandpa Standring, and I had their number memorized – and they were right across town-but I didn’t call them. I knew the area code for Indianapolis was 317, and I began confidently. I dialed the first three digits, and then panic struck me. I didn’t know they rest of Grandma Phyllis’s phone number. I clutched the phone in my hand and just willed the numbers to show up, but after a moment I sighed. I hung up the phone, and along with it, my plans to run away. Within moments, a peace filled me, and I was perfectly content being right there at home on Scenic Drive with the family who might not always understand me, but loved me nevertheless. I think the very thought of Grandma and her peacefulness and goodness just comforted me.

When we’d drive up to Indianapolis to visit my grandparents, visiting Grandma Phyllis was the highlight. If you were her grandchild, you may have played with the Fisher Price castle in her basement, you might remember the green glasses she poured orange juice in for you or her teddy bear collection. You probably played checkers with her on her coffee table with the reversable checkerboard table-top. On one of those visits, she taught us how to play the card game Rummy 500. She was good. She smiled at you as she stomped your behind…In cards or ping-pong. But you didn’t mind losing to Grandma. Not when she smiled at you and let out the world’s most gentle and heart-warming laugh.

In 97, when I was finishing high school and was starting college at UE, Grandma retired from the Jet Credit Union in Speedway, and she and Bonnie moved to Evansville. I remember how excited I was. I thought, “Finally, we get her in Evansville!” Those few years we had her in Evansville were filled with lots of laughs, smiles, and of course, food. Grandma fed everyone. I recently read a journal that Grandma kept in 1999. Let’s just say, there is a reoccurring them of my brother, my sister, and myself-plus friends, showing up for playing cards, ping pong in her basement, and you bet- for food. Here are three sibling specific snippets from that journal that made me smile…

“Sam and his friend, Brad, came over and finished putting our ping pong table together. I fed them and baked cookies for them.”

This next entry I thought maybe she accidently wrote my sister’s name instead of mine, but I read it twice. It clearly says Coleen. To be exact, it says, “Coleen came over and visited with us. We love to see her. She is so pretty and so sweet.”

The next one though was definitely an entry about me. Ahem, “Sarah came over, and I fixed her a bacon club.” 😉 I won’t read anymore, but let’s just say that some of us showed up at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, more than the others, and were fed fairly often at Grandma’s- according to her journal.

One time I asked Grandma about the story I’d heard of her being held at gun point when she worked for the credit union. A man came in and told her to put all of the money in the bag. Grandma said he had a gun pointing straight at her. I said, “What did you do?” She said, “I looked back at him and said, ‘You’ve gotta be kidding me…And he put the gun away and ran out of the bank.’”

I was thinking about it later on. That guy probably heard the same angelic voice that I had all those years and looked at the nicest lady he’d ever met and thought, “What am I doing? I can’t rob her!” Just by being her sweet, gentle self, she changed his path that day.

I wonder if we all tried to be kind and gentle like Grandma Phyllis, how the lives of those we come across each day would be better.

People have always talked about my grandma’s beauty. My whole life people have said things like, “Your grandma is so beautiful,” or, “your grandma was so beautiful,”- talking about how she was when she was younger. Even in the nursing home, a lady said to me, “You look a lot like your grandma, and that’s a compliment. Some people say she used to be the most beautiful woman around.” First of all, being compared to her at all I took as a compliment. And yes, I always thought she was beautiful. But more than any physical outward beauty, to me, her beauty was the way she treated those around her. So many Bible verses make me think of her, but one that comes to mind often is Proverbs 16:24. It says, “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” For the forty years I knew Grandma, her words were certainly that…sweet to my soul…and to anyone else’s who was paying attention.

In the final months, one of my favorite memories with Grandma was when Uncle Marvin and Reta would show up on Sunday, and we’d all take Communion together. I was reminded in those moments that Grandma was a woman of faith, a child of God, and we’ll be communing with her again, one day in Heaven, -only she won’t be suffering at all then. She embodied kindness and grace, and left a trail of encouragement, compassion, and love for all who were blessed to meet her. From the would-be bank robber to people like you and me, she impacted lives. I know I’m not alone in saying, we will miss Grandma, we’re thankful for the lessons she taught us, and we’re thankful we had her for so long. The memory of her alone will always make us smile and encourage us to be better people, one kind word, one smile, one moment at a time. I look forward to the day I’ll see her again in Heaven.

 

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That’s your mom?!?

About a month ago, I’m waiting for a medical test when the nurse walks out and starts grinning from ear to ear as she says hello to a woman in the room. They exchange greetings, and then the nurse looks down at the piece of paper in her hand and calls out the next victim’s, I mean patient’s name, which is mine. I look over my shoulder as I walk through the door with her and say, “See you soon, Mom.”

The nurse suddenly realizes the woman she’d been so happy to see is with me. “That’s your Mom?!?” she exclaims, eyes wide.

I grin. “Yep.”

She smiles again. “Oh, she’s SO beautiful.”

I chuckle. “Yeah,” I nod.

The nurse’s brow weaves together. “Oh, you’re beautiful, too,” she adds quickly.

I laugh as she begins telling me why she thinks my mom is so special and beautiful, and quickly I figure out that though she may have only met my mom a handful of times over the years, she knows what most people know…Mom is beautiful inside and out, and that my friends, really is something. Here’s a little birthday card I wrote for the mothership. If you see Jacquelyn, give her a hug…

She prays without end
She’s always a friend,
She falls, she gets up
She tries again
She explores, she sees,
She hikes, she believes
She gardens, she listens
She inspires, she sings
She’s sugar and spice,
She laughs till she cries
She gives everything,
She dares you to dream
True beauty, the real deal
Authentic, naturally,
She’s a helper, she’s a fighter
She’s there for you and me.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOM! I love you.

Love your favorite pain, (AKA the middle child), Sarah  xoxoxo

Mom <3

 

 

 

 

Fall in love

To the world’s coolest dentist…

Today, in honor of the man, my dad,
Who brainwashed the younger me,
I’ll try to live by his favorite rules
I’ll do my best, let’s see…

I’ll start with the indoor waste
‘Cause a clean trash can is a happy trash can,
Empty each one into the central outdoor bin
Then scrub each container best I can

I’ll put on some classic rock
Throw in some eighties big hair greats,
There’s something about cleaning your house while belting lyrics
To Bon Jovi and Whitesnake

I’ll Windex every window, TV,
Anything that can gleam,
I’ll clean out my cabinets, closets, and drawers
I’ll douse everything in bleach

I’ll try not to overdo it
Every so often I’ll have to take five,
I’ll spend it watching a classic war movie
With the surround sound cranked up high

I’ll tackle each item on my yellow legal pad
Understand the importance of this list,
Work hard, accomplish goals, and cross off each item
After I’m done with it

I’ll do good, what’s right
Treat others how I want to be treated,
Have my friends over for roast
And once they are seated…

I’ll tell my favorite jokes, the old, the new
And sing my favorite tunes,
We’re not gonna take it, no, we ain’t gonna take it
And Beans, beans, the magical fruit

Pass the sugar, Sugar, the honey, Honey,
And please pass the tea, Bag,
I’ll reveal the origins of baby carrots,
How they were taken from their moms and dads

I’ll ask my kids if anyone is picking on them
Offer to beat up a bully or two,
Run five thousand errands, cleaning as I go,
There’s so much dirt, so much to do

I’ll try to be like Dad, the birthday man
Leave a trail of laughs and smiles in my wake,
He touches lives with his humor and kindness
He’s one of a kind, one of the greats

So, today, in honor of the man who taught me to dream big
Who taught me how to ski,
I’ll try to accomplish this daunting list
But at the very least, I’ll scrub my trashcans clean.

Sarah and Dad HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DAD! I love you!
Love, Princess (AKA your favorite middle child) Sarah Louise

Birthday “card” for my mom. :)

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
This is a card from your middle child,
Sarah Lou…

I don’t understand why we have to keep secrets
from my siblings, about my rank,
I know I’m your favorite
even though you won’t say it, and you still mix up our names

You say it simply means
you love us equally,
But when you call me by the dog’s name,
it leaves me wondering

Yet clearly a woman who takes her kids on adventures
loves each one with all her heart,
And you still accept our phone calls, provide prayer, pep talks,
and therapy free of charge

From road trips to boating to hiking in Whistler,
there’s never a dull moment with you
I remember the nights you defended our houseboat,
chasing raccoons with your flashlight and broom

I’ll never forget when the wise men messed up
every line in the Christmas play
You tried to stay focused and read from the script,
but you couldn’t keep a straight face

It started in your tailbone and traveled up your spine,
soon you were hysterical and laughing to tears,
The minister, the wise men, the entire congregation
joined in, and talked about that show for years

If I had a penny, for every time
I’ve seen people listening to your stories,
Before they know it, they are crying from laughing,
nothing about you is boring

You taught us to spot birds on wires, in trees,
and on the side of the highway and street,
With one hand on the wheel and the other pointing up,
it’s educational and exciting to say the least

You inspire me to write my own story, to dream big,
and to use my imagination,
You were the first person to teach me to live by the phrase,
It’s the journey, not the destination.

You taught Sunday school, you sing with the choir,
you pray with and help those in need,
You’re a listener, a friend, and you point me to God,
you’re always there for me

So while I might not be your favorite,
I know I’m blessed-
I’m one of three people in the world
who can say their Mom is the best.

I’ll respect your phone-free vacations
–my longest week each year,
But I’ll never quit calling,
Yours was the first voice I heard and that I still love to hear.

So on this birthday if I haven’t said it enough,
let me be very clear indeed,
I am undeserving and SO grateful to be the middle child
of the amazing woman known as Jacque.

I LOVE YOU, MOM!

LOVE,
SARAH LOUISE

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Absence of you 

  
I miss you, Grandpa Doc. Love, Sarah Lou 💔