This was the last picture I took with Grandmother in December:
Here is one from my sister's wedding 9 years ago on Valentine's Day:
Looking back over the last 35 years, these are the top ten things my Grandmother taught me. I'm beginning with 10 and working my way up to number 1.
(10) You're never too poor in America to buy a bar of soap.
While this may not technically be true, this motto was instilled into her daughters. Ladies, it you're going to be seen in public, at least put on something nice, use soap, and brush your hair. You don't have to be the best dressed, but there are no excuses in our society not to look decent. My Grandmother was always well dressed and well accessorized. She was stylin', folks, and I was always proud to show her off.
(9) Old movies are the best movies.
There were heartaches, pain, love, life, death, drama, and action, but all were exhibited with elegance, class, and manners (so like her). None of the crude language and exposed skin that today's movies insist on displaying. It's not necessary. If Greta Garbo, Vivien Leigh, or Audrey Hepburn wouldn't do it, you shouldn't either. She loved all the classics and could name all the characters. The Tampa Theater will never be the same.
(8) Work is good.
God created each of us to work. Grandmother worked her entire adult life in some capacity and loved it. She didn't just work to live, she lived to work. Her active lifestyle kept her body going for 86 years.
(7) Loyalty is a character quality to be sought after.
Loyalty to your family means never giving up on them. Loyalty to your job means treating your co-workers and bosses well, and in return being treated magnificently yourself. Her bosses proved that point and for that we are all grateful. When you are loyal to others, you'll have friends for life.
(6) Each person should have a signature item that represents their personality.
Frogs. Just little, green, jumpy things? I don't think so! Spunky, fun, and sticky (as in sticking to your heart). These are all words that describe my Grandmother, not just the green frogs given to her on every occasion.
(5) Food is meant to be savored.
Dinner is never meant to be swallowed at break-neck speed. Adventurous eating? Yes, please. She liked raw oysters, for cryin' out loud. She believed if it's going to be eaten, make it good. Otherwise, why bother? I'll never put another fried green tomato, boiled peanut, or piece of fried chicken in my mouth without thinking of her. In her honor candy orange slices will have a place of honor on my table at the beach this summer.
(4) The beach is the best place to see God's glory.
My Grandmother instilled a love for the beach in every one of her family members. Now, my favorite place on earth other than my home is the mountains, but Grandmother is the reason the beach means so much to me. Through her eyes I saw the beauty of the waves during a storm. I tasted salt on my lips after a swim in the ocean. I saw the holes the sandcrabs dug to escape our noisy family invading their territory. I felt the squishy sand between my toes as I walked down the beach. I took my children to collect shells, each one uniquely designed by God, no two alike in the same way there are no two people alike. What a blessing to gather together every summer and have those memories.
(3) All holidays deserve recognition by card.
Some people like phone calls, but everyone especially appreciates the time taken to send a hand written note. Grandmother never failed at this. Each holiday my entire life I received a card. She gave me my first Valentine's Day card as a child, and my own children were recipients of the last batch of holiday cards she sent this month for Valentine's Day.
(2) Time with family and friends is meant to be passed slowly and with reverence.
There should be no rush on an evening spent with friends or family. Lives are busy, but we should take time to be grateful for the moments we have today with people we love, because we never know when those moments will be our last. Our dinners and dates with Grandmother better not have had a specific ending time, because there was a lot of talking and sharing to do. Oh- the stories! Depression and war stories, McMullen family stories, rationing, singing and big band theatrics, snippets of her 7 daughters' lives. These were some of the topics shared over appetizers, dinner, dessert, and drinks. We were not allowed to order the next course until the previous one was completed. This made sure we had enough time to savor each moment spent together. We always remembered to tip big at the end of the night, because usually if our dates were at restaurants, our particular tables were not turned.
(1) Family loves and helps family.
God puts us in a family for a reason, never by accident. We are the ones who will get on each others nerves the most and make each other cry. We are also the ones who will make each other laugh, get each others inside jokes, stick up for one another, pray for each other, and come through for each other when no one else will. The old saying, "Blood is thicker than water" certainly holds up in our family. Let's make sure we keep supporting one another and loving one another the way Grandmother wanted us to for the rest of our lives.
I love you, Grandmother! Thanks for all the life lessons you taught me.