in honor of

"The only thing you take with you when you're gone is what you leave behind. What will you leave behind?"

Growing up, my mom, brother and I would drive 4 hours north of Dallas to see my grandmother on the family farm in rural Oklahoma, and we would then visit the grave site of our relatives. As a child, I don't even recall which relative's gravesides we visited in the cemetery, we would just place a plastic flower on each grave, nod our heads in prayer just like my Grandma Walker and then drive home in silence. It wasn't until I lost my Granddad Walker in junior high that I realized the significance of physically going to the place where the body rests. And, even then, I only went a hand full of times. Today, more than a decade later, with 2 boys of my own, I'm beginning to see how vital it is that we take time remember our loved ones. Ashamedly, I have not returned to the farm since my grandma passed in 2000. Her passing was traumatic for our family and especially my brother. He just had his third child, Holly, and brought her up to be seen by her great grandmother for the first time on Easter weekend. When they pulled in to peach tree lined drive past the chain link gate, he found the door ajar and my grandmother in the entry way, unmoving. The children stayed in the car but witnessed their parents shock of finding her. Living alone and with no one who could have saved her, we believe it was a stroke that took her.
Grandma Walker & me on the farm

The farm for me holds scores of memories. In my teens, I went to live with there just after my grandfather passed. My great aunt was having cancer treatments in the city, and Grandma Walker had just taken over my aunt's gas station business or the store, as we called it. An organic farmer and  bookkeeper by trade, Grandma Walker was a shrewd business woman who I learned more about operating a business from the 10 months living with her than I had in all my years helping my mother run her Mary Katy business out of our home in Texas. So many days and evenings after school spent with her working in the store, hearing her stories, watching Jeopardy and Lawrence Welk, listening to her laugh when the customers would come in and compliment her on this and that, and mostly just feeling like I could do no wrong. The pure love of a grandparent is something that I will regard for the rest of my life and beyond. Instilling in me a work ethic that embodied saving and reinvesting (a by-product of her depression-era days), she was a woman of uncompromising integrity. I often imagine her at my side when I face life's difficulties, as she overcame so many in her own life. Her sky-blue eyes smiling at me, saying, "Missy Marie, I love you."

In honor of you today, Grandma Walker, holding you in my heart. I love you, too.


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