Saturday, May 22, 2010

Flights of angels sing thee to thy rest

This morning we said farewell to a great woman: dear Grandma, Marlene McArthur Judkins. She led a long and noble life even though she suffered from just about every medical ailment in the book, and she passed away in comfort as she slept. Grandma leaves behind a legacy of unconditional selfless love. Her last words to me are the perfect example of that: as I was leaving the hospital to drive back to Provo on the scary freeway (my first time on Imminent Death 15--I mean Interstate 15), her eyes fluttered open and she said in her cracking voice, "Please be careful." She was dying, but all she cared about were the people around her.

While we watched Grandma's body fail, Grandpa asked me to remember her the way she was. I assured him that I have millions of memories of Grandma and this was only going to be one of them. Here are some of my other memories of Grandma, captured in photographs.

Grandma with Mom

Grandma, me in high school graduation robes, and Grandpa

Grandma (at her 50th Anniversary celebration) and her handsome brother Glen

I inherited a lot from Grandma: my Scottish vowels for which I have been relentlessly tormented (thanks, Kelli); my love affair with literature; my knack for crafting words; and, of course, my striking good looks. (The latter is so obvious, I hardly even have to say it.)

Grandma and I have kindred spirits. When I last went to her house, I found this beauty:
A bookcase full of old children's books!

Please observe the infamous Tom Sawyer. This is the 1931 edition.
Grandma married a boy just as mischievous as Tom!

Dear to my heart:
My bedtime story heritage.

But this book is my favorite. My grandma got it from her grandma who got it from her mother. It's the 1899 edition of Emerson's poems.
Complete with gold leaf and an inscription from Great-great-great-grandma.

And Emerson himself. Oh, what a handsome man.

Here are some of my favorite memories of Grandma from when I was little:
  • she taught me how to click my tongue
  • she assured me that the pressure did not mean I was exploding internally, I just had to go to the bathroom really bad
  • when my mom needed a break from me, Grandma invited me to stay in the Princess Room in her house (little did I know it was also The Dungeon that I stayed in when I was naughty)
  • she had a beautiful 1940s-era singing voice
  • she fed the squirrel that lived in her backyard
  • she drove over the curb once in a grocery store parking lot and said "Whee!" as she did it
  • she had a very short neck and pretended to "stretch it out" for us
  • she made fantastic faces (usually involving scrunching or stretching) for babies to look at
  • when my mom fell down the stairs (which was quite funny), Grandma dropped her walker and ran to check on her before anyone else even realized what was happening
Thanks, Grandma! I'll always remember your beauty, your grace, and the hidden kiss at the corner of your mouth!

To steal from Shakespeare (which Grandma would have appreciated): "Now cracks a noble heart. Good night, sweet Grandma, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!"

1 comment:

Theresa said...

I love that you read her peter pan at her bedside and the allusion here. You're awesome Toni!. And,.. I must say I've noticed that bookshelf before but haven't gotten around to perusing the books. I love the ones you pointed out. Furthermore I love your memories of Grandma. Many of them are the Grandma I didn't get a chance to know first hand but I think I know her spirit better now and they are fitting with the parts of grandma I did know first hand. We'll miss you grandma.