I always used to tell people I have 2 Grandmas. My grandma Ertl was the warm, fluffy grandma who baked amazingly delicious chocolate chip cookies and told bedtime stories. Gosh, I loved that woman so much!
Then there was Grams. Grandma Foster (Mom or Marilyn, as many of you know her) was the spicy, sassy (and classy) grandma who taught me the importance of wearing fashionable jewelry and having your nails done. She always had the cutest (age appropriate) outfits. And she made sure she had a new one for every special occasion. Grams loved to drink vodka gimlets and smoke cigarettes...until she couldn't. Then she made do with red wine and one liners. She was the life of the party because she loved life so much.
Marilyn valued her family and friends, above all else. She always made time for the people she loved. When you talked to her, you knew she was listening because she remembered what you told her and always followed up to make sure whatever you were up to was going well. Grandma was loyal, honest and authentic which made her personality charming and magnetic to anyone who had the privilege of knowing her.
Grandma was always there for us. She showed up to every birthday, reunion, graduation, game and performance she could. Grams wanted to be part of the action and included in all the excitement. And when she couldn’t be there physically, grandma showed her support and told us how proud she was with phone calls and cards. She loved all of us the same amount, but she knew how to tailor her love and express it differently to each of us.
Grams always said what was on her mind. She didn’t hold back. You never had to guess what she was thinking. I loved her independence and wit. Marilyn was unapologetically herself. She approached life playfully with an admirable sense of humor and compassion.
Grandma stayed strong for all of us until the day she died. I think the hardest part for her was leaving all the people that loved her. But the funny thing is, she didn’t actually leave anyone. Marilyn, Mom, Mother in-law, Grandma, Great Grandma lives on in her family legacy...
In my mom, Monica, I see her leadership and love for tradition.
In Susan, I see her incredible strength and empathy.
In Mary, I see her warmth, fun and acceptance.
In Julie, I see her ‘take charge attitude’ and sense of direction.
In Rick, I see her protector and favorite son.
Her grandchildren and great grandchildren carry her spark, determination and zest for life.
During her last hours, we expressed, over and over how thankful we were for everything she did and everything she was. We said our “I love yous” 100 times over. And grandma kept saying, “I know, I know.” She didn’t have a doubt in her mind how deeply cared for and loved she was. Now THAT is a beautiful thing.
I hope we can all feel just as confident that Grandma is in a much better place. I hope you find peace in your heart knowing she’s here in spirit and will continue to make herself known in each of us.
Even when she was sick, Grams loved life. She loved it so much, she didn’t want to let it go. And you know what? You can’t teach people how to love life. You have to dig deep and feel it. You have to open your eyes and see it. You have to open your ears and hear it. So, I challenge all of you to find that same love for life. That’s what grandma would want for all of us.
When I get quiet, and ask myself, “What was grandma’s message?” This is what I hear…
Look for the good in every situation. Express yourself freely. Ask for what you want. Stay strong in adversity. Be there for your family, no matter what. And don’t forget to make regular hair appointments.