Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Remembering Granny

Last Wednesday 2/4 I was in choir practice at church when I got 2 texts and a call about my grandmother. Turns out it was the "going downhill fast" call, and she passed about 2 am on Thursday 2/5/15. Grandmothers are very special, and losing one is never easy. We were always very close. 

Nora Barnhill was in an assisted living facility/nursing home for the last 11 years. My God-send of a mother was the primary caretaker for her the entire time; I don't see how she did it. That's a long time to care for an elderly parent. Granny was not easy to care for either. At first she did enjoy the facility, but the last 3 years especially were difficult for her in there as her constant pain levels increased and quality of life steadily decreased. Even this past December she was mentally and physically unable to do anything to celebrate her 90th birthday. Her passing brings almost as much relief as it does sadness.

She was my last grandparent. I feel blessed to have made it to almost 40 years old with grandparents, and hope that my children are that lucky.

My grandfather worked for Bell South, and after he retired they moved out to a 22 acre farm in rural SC. Some of my best childhood memories were out there, and I absolutely loved spending time on the farm. My grandfather used to take me fishing, and to Furman and Clemson football games, or just work the farm planting and harvesting the fields. Granny taught me how to cook before I moved into a dorm with a kitchen sophomore year of college. I still have recipes in her handwriting. He passed away about a month before Kelley and I got married in 1998.  I still miss him deeply.

You learn (or relearn) interesting things about someone after they pass away. I knew Granny's mother was a charter member of  a small church in Greenville SC. I knew Granny was a home economics teacher before she retired. But I didn't realize that she directed the wednesday night church supper for over 30 years. She also taught the kindergarten sunday school class for over 30 years. (if you're not familiar, Wednesday nights at a Southern Baptist Church include a 5 pm dinner social followed by an adult bible study and separate children's events. Our church regularly has about 100 people for that.) Saturday afternoon we had a graveside funeral for Granny. The church preacher (who was also a golfing partner with my grandfather) delivered the eulogy. And like most Southern Baptist Preachers, Spencer was quite the talker. I was surprised how much he talked about my grandfather at Granny's funeral, but they were the closest of friends. Spencer always said that my grandfather was his preacher.

They were married for 52 years. The closest I ever heard to them having an argument ended with him saying "why don't you kiss me so you'll hush talking". Amazing.

Since she sold the farm 11 years ago most of her material possessions were taken care of then. We got the rest of her stuff moved out of the nursing home Saturday morning. Mom had been going through some of it, and had set aside a few hundred pictures that she had kept with her in the nursing home. That really shows you what she thought was important; the moments that she chose to cherish. Every single one of my school pictures was in there, from 4 year old preschool through 12th grade. I couldn't believe how many pictures she kept of my eagle scout presentation. I scanned in a bunch of pictures, and think it's appropriate to end this post with some of the memories that were important to her.

Portrait of my grandparents
Almost all of the grandkids, this was taken before the last 2 were born, and they are both college age now.

Granny with an Evil Genius going after her necklace

She loved her great-grandkids more than anything

My college graduation was the only time they ever went to Boone NC

Me as a baby with my grandparents on a beach vacation. Those beds are still in the Tybee Island beach house

At my eagle scout presentation ceremony - Dad's mom passed in 2013, my dad looks incredibly young, me, mom, and her dad

He gave me one of those coins every year

Granny and I at my Great-Grandma Barnhill's funeral. I was in college.

She made finger puppets for the kids to play with!

Granny on the beach at Tybee Island

Mama G on the beach at Tybee Island
Mama G was granny's mother. She passed in 1990 when I was in high school. She bought the beach house with her husband in 1947. Mom decided to spend a week there to decompress and let the new reality sink in over such a familiar location. I need to make a trip to Tybee this year too. It's about a 7 hour drive for us so it's not that easy, but it's been a couple of years since we've made it down.

Granny was buried beside my grandfather, and right in front of her parents. They will all be missed. We were blessed to have such a large family and for so many generations to be together for so long.

I still have more pictures that she kept that I'll be sharing soon.


Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

I'm sorry to hear of your grandma's passing but I know the feeling of it being both a sad occasion but also a relief on some level. That is how we felt when my paternal grandpa passed away. You are lucky that you've had grandparents in your life as long as you have. I'm down to one as well and she is almost 92 but she is in such great health, I think/hope she'll be around for awhile but you just never know.

I love that picture of your grandma with Evil Genius!!

CautiouslyAudacious said...

So sorry for your loss. Those are some wonderful photos and memories you have to keep! I lost all my grandparents fairly young and it is always hard.