22 October 2012

All God's People

Grandma Val passed away not too long ago. I don’t think she and i ever met until after Mutti and Chris got married. I remember coming home from college to visit my family over the Easter holiday, and I had Easter dinner with my newly mixed family. I had been nervous about meeting my mom’s new in-laws because as with all families, there had been some tension and I can sometimes be defensive of my mother.

Val was shy, and maybe a little introverted. She might not have been overly outgoing when I was there, but she made sure everyone was well fed, and she even surprised me with an Easter basket. This immediately made me feel like I was part of the family, even though I hadn’t lived at home for many years and even though this was the first time I had participated in a Morris/Hanson family event.

And every time I went home to New Mexico after that, we’d have Sunday dinners with Grandma Val and the family. She’d make a point to take out the good dishes, the wine glasses, always made sure that there was red wine in the house because she knew I liked it, even though she didn’t drink. Grandma Val helped my little sister plan my New Mexico wedding shower, and that meant a lot to me, too. It was a beautiful day, the food was great, and the companionship was even better.

Sometimes we’d all go out for pizza, and we’d get green chili pizza and Dr. Pepper. My all-time favorite story of Grandma Val is over pizza (with green chilies!) and she said she and Pop-Pop would buy this meal every Friday night and watch Star Trek. I said “oh, Steve and I are watching Star Trek, too. We’re on the episode when Picard does such and such.” And she looked at me and said, “No, Amanda. Star Trek. The real Star Trek, with the real Captain. The only Captain.”

The Friday night after Grandma Val passed away, we ordered pizza. I drank Dr. Pepper. We watch Star Trek. The real Star Trek. With the real Captain. 

Val had cancer, very terrible cancer. It was hard on my family when she was sick because they had just gotten over the shock of our Grandma Johnson's long fight with cancer as well. But they took care of her, sat with her until the end, and prayed for her when the local priest would not. I found out about her passing while I was at work, and after my shift I went to the Duke Chapel and spent some time in there after lighting a candle for her. Later, a bishop friend of mine performed a mass in her name, and assured me she is at rest, at peace, and at One.

I have some of her jewelery, some penguins, and a lovely mauve/purple colored ceremonial communion chalice of hers that I claimed last time I was in New Mexico.  This Samhain season I honor her by including her jewelery with that of my blood grandmothers, who get a special bowl of jewels on my altar every October.

Grandma Val was a friend to my mother, a grandmother to my sisters, and a strong matriarch to the Hanson/Morris clan. I'm sad I wasn't able to spend more time with her, but I'm glad for the time we did have. I'm thankful for her in that she took care of my family when I was not there to do it. She loved her family very much, blood and otherwise. She is an example of the saying I grew up with, "mi casa es su casa".

And after a long, extremely painful fight, I'm glad she is at rest. Blessings, love, and honor to Grandma Val!

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