On June 1, 2017, my grandma, Lucy, lost a long battle with Multiple Sclerosis and entered into the gates of Heaven. She was 73 years old, and she had lived a life she loved.
Lucy was born on January 17, 1944 in West Virginia. Although she was born and raised in West Virginia, she spent most of her life in Kansas City. It was here that she spent time as an auditor for the IRS, as an EMT at Prairie Township Fire, and as Firefighter Wife of the Year, two years in a row. It was also here that she found her greatest love, my grandpa. Lucy married grandpa on December 10, 1963; this year they would be celebrating 56 years of marriage. But Grandpa did not remain her greatest love for long, he would soon have to share her heart with two sons… and later two grandsons and two grandaughters. Lucy’s family was her greatest love, greatest joy, and greatest pride – and also her greatest pain in the butt.
Much like Lucille Ball, Lucille Large was the sassiest soul there ever was. She was never afraid to speak her mind, even if it didn’t have a filter. She was never afraid to stand up for herself and others, even when it was hard. Most of all, she didn’t take anybody’s crap. Now, Lucy wasn’t the slimmest of ladies, and she knew it. So, if you got on her nerves, she would threaten to take you outside and sit on you. As funny as that sounds now, the thought of Grandma, outback, sitting on me scared the crap out of me as a kid, and it was definitely more than enough to get me to stop being a bratty little kid – at least for a while.
In her 50’s, Grandma was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, an autoimmune disorder that affects the central nervous system by attacking the myeline sheath of nerves. Essentially, this means that Lucy’s body was attacking the coating around her nerves that makes the transmission of electrical signals in the body move quickly. Because of this, her movements were slow, limited, and uncoordinated. Her MS was complicated leaving her in a wheel chair, with diabetes, with dementia and ultimately, with congestive heart failure. Although her diagnosis was serious, she never let it hold her back. She was so much more than her MS.
I never knew my grandma before her diagnosis, but I didn’t have to. To me, she was the greatest woman to ever walk, waddle and roll in a wheel chair on this Earth. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of her. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t miss her. Although it still hurts, I know she wouldn’t want me to be sad (she’s actually probably threatening to sit on me right now). My grandma wouldn’t want me to sit and dwell on the past or beat myself up about the future. So, instead, I am going to think about all the things I learned from her – one for each year she blessed my life.
- Be unappolgetically you because if you can’t love yourself, no one else will ever be able to.
- Stand up for what you believe in, even if it’s hard.
- God created the Heavens and the Earth. He created you and me. He sent His son to die for us, so that we may live. (Oh, and what a wonderful life she is living now!)
- Sometimes you just have to say screw the diet and get yourself a chocolate shake – even if you have diabetes.
- Sometimes the small things leave the biggest impact on others’ lives – like that one soccer goal I scored when I was little that Grandma never forgot about, even when she had dementia.
- When you are having a bad day, slowing down (and bird watching) will always help. Take time for yourself.
- If something is important, you will never forget.
- You can always find your way back home.
- You don’t need the most lavish things, as long as they make you happy.
- God and family are the most important things in this life, nothing else really matters.
- Live a life you love – even if it’s not what others have in mind for you.
- Even the strongest of women fall sometimes, but you have to get back up.
- By far, the best way to ask someone what they are doing is by saying, “hey good lookin’, whatcha got cookin’?”
- Every word to home on the range… I swear it’s the only song the woman knew. O give me a home, where the buffaloes roam, where the deer and the antelope play. Where seldom is heard a discouraging word, and the skies are not cloudy all day.
- You can be whoever or whatever you want – don’t let anything hold you back.
- Life isn’t always perfect, but we can learn from it.
- Never take anything for granted – you never know when it will be taken away.
- Sass is always acceptable.
- Strong women aren’t born strong, life makes them strong.
- Most importantly, never give up.
I love you Lucy, stay sassy.