It is through tears that I write this post tonight. A post that I knew would be composed at some point in time but never sure when. Until now.
Today, my family is grieving the loss of the lovely woman on the right of this picture. In spite of that sadness, we also celebrate the life that she lived.
She loved to travel. While I was growing up, my summers were willed with the anticipation of postcards or letters from Grandma and Grandpa detailing their adventures.
She loved to take pictures. Her camera was nearly always within her reach. Life around her was a constant photographic opportunity.
I am grateful for her summer road trips. We didn't take many vacations while I was growing up, but we did when Grandma and Grandpa Budd came to visit. With them, we took the ferry to Victoria BC and toured The Butchart Gardens. We returned to Washington and visited Hurricane Ridge and the Hoh Rain Forest. Somewhere, there exists an award winning photograph that Grandma took on that trip - she pointed her lens through a gap in a piece of driftwood and snapped a picture of me playing on an Olympic Peninsula beach.
She was a great mom. I never experienced that first hand, but I have seen the fruits of her labor. She raised seven of the most amazing people I've ever known - one of whom happens to be my mother.
She was devoted to her family. She was devoted to her church. She always had a kind word to say. She loved to laugh; something that was irresistibly contagious. I can barely remember a time when she wasn't smiling.
She taught me the definition of hospitality. She opened her house to this large family of ours and it was always filled with warmth and joy. Conversation. Spirited rounds of playing cards. The delicious scents of whatever was cooking in the kitchen. She always had soda available (as long as you asked). In that kitchen, I learned to like yogurt and ate my first Red Baron single serving pizza.
So tonight, it's farewell. Goodbye to a bright spot in this universe. To the wonderful mom that raised the aunts and uncle that inspire me. The sweet grandmother that loved my brother, me, and all of our cousins. The great-grandma to my kids. A woman who touched countless lives. We are all blessed that you were a part of our lives. Thank you for all that you've done.