Sunday, March 24, 2013

Saying Good-Bye

Tuesday March 19 was a sad day for me.  My beloved Grandma Gansner passed away.  ( I mentioned her here.)  As my cousin said at her funeral yesterday, she really was the best of women.  She had been really sick for the past month, which is why I haven't posted much.

This is the last picture I have of *most* of the cousins together, taken at Thanksgiving

I had the honor, along with 5 of my other cousins, of eulogizing her.  It was one of the hardest, yet most gratifying thing I've ever had to do.  For those of you who don't know her, this will give you a look into what a fantastic woman she was.

To me, it is no accident that Sara Chambliss Gansner shared names with Sara the wife of Abraham  whom God called "the mother of nations" as she was a woman of unwavering faith who loved and was loved by so many children along the way.  In every way that someone could be, my grandma was pure, giving, Christ-like LOVE.  She led a simple life, wanted little, and helped many.  In all of my almost 27 years, not once did I ever hear her complain, covet, or speak an ill word about anyone.  She did not tell you how to live your life.  It just wasn’t her way.   Make no mistake though, my grandma was a strong woman.  By choice, she lived alone in her own house from the time my grandpa died in 1990 to just a month ago, even though she never learned to drive. 
My grandma loved children and they always loved her back.  You never saw anyone happier than she was while holding a baby or talking to a young child.  I will never forget her great laugh that only a child could stir up.  Her grandchildren and great grandchildren were her pride and joy.  She played a strong role in raising many of us.  She had a way of making all of us feel special and safe.  We were her sweeties.  Though her house was simple, there were reminders of us everywhere.  Every surface was covered with births, birthdays, graduations, and weddings.  She kept up with us too.  Ask her “how’s Michelle?  What’s Christy up to?” and she always seemed to know.  With all of the time she spent with us, I cannot remember her ever yelling, raising her voice, or losing her cool and with the Batmans, Robins, Neil Diamonds, and Luke Gansners  in our family, that’s saying a lot.
Memories of my grandma wouldn’t be complete without thinking about food.  If you look around, you’ll notice that everyone in our family is what I will lovingly refer to as “healthy.”  We did not get that way by accident.  She knew everyone’s favorite food and usually had it ready every time you came to visit.  For me, it was fried chicken and mashed potatoes, for others it was cherry pie, cheesecake, Thanksgiving stuffing, sugar cookies at Christmas, and banana bread.  It wasn’t the kind of food you’d find at a fancy restaurant, but it was made with a pinch of Southern and lots of love.  Food memories took on a new meaning to me later in life when I’d pick her up and take her to the grocery store because the trek across Beltline Rd became too far for her to walk.  Her blue eyes would sparkle at the mention of a stop at Steak N Shake, where she would promptly order a strawberry milkshake, steak burger, and onion rings to share.  Once at the store she’d get her buggy to lean on and we’d make our way through, always ending up in the frozen food section.  “Do you want some ice cream grandma?” I’d ask.  “Better make it two, hon.  Sugar free,” she’d always reply.
Right up until the end and even through all of her suffering, my grandma was a woman of unshakable faith.  Today I think she would encourage all of us to strengthen our relationship with God.  We can carry on her legacy by pushing through the hard times, living simply, keeping our families and traditions going, granting forgiveness, and loving all, especially the little guys.