Don’t you just love when surprises seem to fall out of nowhere? 

I opened up my Facebook feed a while ago, and there was a “share your memories ” post from 2014. 

As fate would have it, it was a something I’d written to my grandma Wilma 2 years ago today. Along with my message, was a recipe of hers that I stumbled across in a cookbook and at the time I was showing it to her. 

If you’ve been around here awhile, you’ll know how much I love and admire my grandma Wilma. She was an amazing woman and was 96 years old when she left this earth for Heavenly adventures. 

Before she passed, I wrote some nice stories about her. One is called, “Windows” and is one of my favorite stories ever. Here is the link, if you’re interested in reading it. 

Another one I really like is called “Written Words” which tells about these folders full of writing that she and grandpa gave for Christmas presents for 11 years. You can read it here, if you want. 

The  day she passed away, my feelings poured out on the page and “She Wore Iowa Well” was born. 

She was definitely smiling down on me that day, because that story still has the most views of any I’ve ever written before or since, and it was even read at her funeral. You could find it here, if you’d like. 

After she passed, I wrote another story about her called, “Her Voice”. It’s about an afternoon surprise that Little Bit and I got out of the blue on Valentine’s Day . The link to it is here, if you’d like to take a peek. 

I guess now is the perfect day for sharing memories of her and that recipe as well. It’s seems funny to me how they so eloquently popped back into my life via Facebook today. 

You see, I was never  even going to get on Facebook. Like ever. But, I eventually took the plunge and I did so only for one reason: 

Grandma was on there. 

Love how things like that happen sometimes. 

Oh, one last thing, at her services, the minister said something that was one of those stop-you-in-your-tracks-true statements:

“Wilma put the Amazing in Grace.”

Yes, she most certainly did! 

Here’s to you, grandma. 

Her Voice

Have you ever just been floating along in your life and suddenly been gifted something so unbelievable that you almost had to pinch yourself so you could believe it?

That happened to me. As most of you know, Friday was a tough day for me. I was working on my story about my aunt. Grief had sort of set up shop in my kitchen and after dishing out bowls full of tears, it made itself quite comfortable on the stool next to mine.

Thoughts of not only losing my aunt, but also about losing grandma Wilma crowded my heart. As I reread my story about grandma from December, my heart was more than heavy.

How is it that time passes so quickly? February is half over which means grandma has already been gone over two months. I found myself really missing her, too.

When I got my story finished up, I went about the normal day activities. A few hours later, I sat down to check my emails. Little did I know that I was about to receive a glorious gift.

My parents had forwarded me an email from my uncle that contained something that I had no idea even existed.

At first, I just sat there, staring at it. Then, I ran to get Little Bit.

You see, that email contained  something way beyond believable. As I hit the play button, the gift magically appeared.

Her voice.

Grandma Wilma’s voice filled the entire room. 

It was an audio file of grandma reading “The Night Before Christmas.” You should have seen us! With blankets and pillows piled high on the dining room floor, we sat among books and Legos, and we listened.

I’m pretty sure there was never a sweeter moment. It was as if there was a giant box in the room covered with pretty paper and ribbons.

Words can’t even begin to touch what it was like to see the sparkle in my little boy’s eyes when he heard his great grandma’s voice once again.

The giant tears cascading down my cheeks were the only movement in a house that was all ears for grandma.

When my precious Little Bit saw my tears, he uttered the most perfectly, amazing, heartfelt words:

“Ooooh, you love it!”

(Insert. Giant. Smile. Here.)

Yes, I most certainly do.  
(her barn and whirly-gig thing that grandpa made) 

Irene’s Heart

Do you have someone in your life that has a heart you absolutely admire? 

My someone that comes to mind, is my grandma Irene. You may remember me writing about her before. I’ve mentioned her ingenuity for making the best of hard times and her strong work ethic, among other things. What I haven’t told you about is her heart. 

Part of me wants to say that she had a heart of gold, but that isn’t really accurate. Her heart was actually filled with an abundance of many vibrant colors. When I think of her heart, I picture a mid-summer wildflower bouquet outlined by the shape of a heart. 

The Multiflora Rose’s pink represents her overflowing compassion. The Cornflower’s blue stands for that twinkle in her eye when she saw us coming down the sidewalk. The Ox-Eye Daisy’s white showcases her beautiful light that radiated around her like someone flipped a switch. The Goldenrod’s yellow highlights her love for not only her own family, but for everyone she met. 

Grandma was one of those grandmas you just want to keep forever. She was present in my life from the moment I was born. She did all the sweet stuff that grandma’s do like: crotcheted me my first sweater for kindergarten, gave me those old fashioned Valetines, sent me cards, came to my activities, and spoiled me on the holidays. 

Even after I grew up and went out on my own, grandma was there for me. She was my pen pal for many years and I have letters she wrote me at every address I ever lived. She was definitely  a keeper. 

I hear that grandma’s mom was the same kind of person grandma was. Never met a stranger, adored her family, and knew how to work hard. Great grandma actually came over on the boat from Germany with her family and settled in Iowa. How I wish I could’ve met her. I bet she would have had some stories to tell. 

She passed away before I was born. Turns out her and grandma had more in common than just being great people. They both had sick hearts. We lost them both quite young. Great grandma was age 59 and grandma was 71. 

I found out recently that I have some heart issues. I called my great aunt to tell her. She and grandma were friends/ sister in laws for over 50 years. When I told her, her response was probably the most bittersweet thing I’ve ever heard. “Oh Jessi, you got Irene’s heart?”

Since that phone call, some time has passed. I’ve had a chance to work through some things in my mind and I’m actually settling into things a bit. I’ve been thinking a lot about grandma’s life and the way she lived it in her short time here. She gave her life everything she had, sick heart and all. 

There is such a huge lesson in that. 

Hmmm. Maybe I’ll call my great aunt back and tell her I realized what a privilege it would be if I were to even have a smidgen of the love, compassion, twinkle, and light grandma had, and that, genetics aside, I am beyond proud to have inherited Irene’s Heart. 

”Junk” Drawers

Do you have any junk drawers? If so, do you ever look in them?  Or, are you like me and consider those items simply lost in the abyss of things you may need right this second, yet can never locate? 

I have one of those in my kitchen, right next to the silverware drawer. Most days it is overflowing with anything I don’t want laying on the counter, which equals a total mess. Need an ink pen? Digging through there may or may not lead to one. 

This past weekend I made a whole new discovery thanks to my beautiful, amazing mom who washed all of our laundry on a recent visit. Because she essentially did all my chores, I found myself with a little free time on my hands. 

Sort of milling around trying to find something I should be doing, I found several more drawers packed to the brim. Although they weren’t in the kitchen, clearly they were catch-alls. 

I just have to tell you what an unexpected treat opening them was. In three different drawers I found some completely random, yet wonderful treasures I’d nearly forgotten about, including:

  • a pair of Little Bit’s pajama bottoms he’d long since outgrown
  • my nephew’s teeny shoes they’d left behind several Christmases ago
  • a hand full of Christmas cards from years past 
  • letters from my great aunt who had been my pen pal for 18 years when she passed away at age 90 
  • a ball we got at the drive thru animal zoo
  • embroidery thread from some project I was always going to finish
  • a book I didn’t even know was missing
  • my parents wedding picture
  • a sweet card from my sister 
  • a photograph of Little Bit with chubby baby cheeks and bare feet
  • a drawing my sister made me years ago of 3 sisters arm in arm
  • my favorite rose quartz stone that I carry in my pocket for luck
  • a letter my friend sent from an ocean away

Just stuff. Lots of stuff. I suppose I could empty those drawers and put those items elsewhere. That would make sense, pictures with pictures, mail with mail, etc. 

However, I’m kind of in love with the idea of having all those life stories intertwined. I had some of those things before Little Bit was born, yet they are all content mingled together. It’s almost like the greatest story prompt in one place. Being able to chronicle our lives by opening a drawer? Seems quite brilliant, really. 

Well, here is something I never thought I’d say, I can’t wait until my chores are done so I can dig around in the “junk” drawers again! That’s pretty cool. Who knew that an ordinary junk holder could be such a gift?