A week ago today, my grandmother, one of the most amazing women I’ll ever know, passed away. She had 4 children, 17 grandchildren, & 15 great-grandchildren, & more loved ones than you can count. She was so special & we are all so sad to not have her here with us anymore.
I spent some time writing out what I wanted to say at her funeral & decided to post it here, just to share her with the rest of the world. While speaking at the funeral, I added some side stories into what I wrote, but this is the majority of what I said:
When I get to missing home in Fayetteville, I go to Carnall Hall, on the University of Arkansas campus, where there are two pictures of my grandmother hanging up because it used to be her old dormitory where she lived in the 1940s. And it makes me smile.
Then after seeing her picture, I wind my way up the staircase to sit on the window sill of the landing. It was on that landing that my grandmother stood next to a girlfriend as they were getting ready to leave to go on a double date & she elbowed her friend & said “I get the one on the right” referring to Grandpa. And I feel better just standing there because I know she has been there too.
When I want something sweet to eat, I pull out all the ingredients for Grandma Byrd cookies & think of all the thousands of times she made those for all her kids & grandkids & just making them makes me feel closer to her. Or sometimes, I make squash casserole because she knew it was my favorite dish (only a few years ago I found out that half the other grandchildren thought she was making it for them too because it was their favorite dish also.) She had the amazing ability to make us all feel as though we were her favorite.
I plant flowers every fall & spring, I grow squash, tomatoes, pumpkins, watermelons & strawberries, & every year my garden gets bigger because it gives me a piece of Grandma Frances all the way up in the mountains of Northwest Arkansas.
I cannot & never will be able to describe how much she did for me, how she made me laugh, made me feel special, made me feel loved. Whether it was flying up to Fayetteville in a snow storm when I was 5 hours old, just home from the hospital to help my parents learn how to change diapers, or when she & Grandpa came up for a few college reunions at the University of Arkansas when I was a new student there & was missing my family so badly & they invited me along to hang out with them & to meet their friends. Or even when I was talking to her on the phone last week & she told me I had to quit telling people that my baby girl has chubby cheeks otherwise I’m going to “give that baby a complex” or how she called Mama two weeks ago to tell me to quit cooking breakfast in my high heels. I could tell you all those things & a thousand more stories & it wouldn’t even begin to illustrate who she was or what she meant to me.
But, I will end with this. A few weeks ago I was on the phone with Grandma, and the baby was squealing, Lboy was shouting about trains, the dog was barking, Todd was walking in the door from work & I was banging pots & pans around trying to get supper on the table. I kept telling her I was sorry that my background noise was so loud & she said to me, “Kate, you need to learn to appreciate the chaos, because it goes fast.” When I start to get irritated or impatient about the little things, or when I haven’t taken the time to appreciate the small stuff, I think to myself “Remember what Grandma said.” What a wonderful last lesson to learn from such a wonderful person.