Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Life Worth Remembering

            This has been on my mind since my church’s ladies’ retreat back in September. The theme was “A Legacy to Remember” and each of us was asked to name someone who left a legacy in our lives. Almost half of the women present, myself included, named our grandmothers. With Christmas just around the corner, I can think of no better time to celebrate the life of my mother’s mom and remember all those childhood Christmases I spent at Grandma’s house. I was only 12 years old when she died, so I was too young to notice some of her character traits. But, looking back, I can see some of those qualities that make me wish I still had her here today.

Louise Swoboda was a devoted wife. Granddaddy had a stroke before I was born, and it got to the point that Grandma could not handle taking care of him by herself, so she put him in a nursing home. Whenever I came to stay a few weeks over the summer with Grandma, she would go to the nursing home to visit Granddaddy at lunchtime, every single day. I would sit in the floor and play with Polly Pockets or explore the corridors with the nurses. Sometimes she would bake cookies for him and his roommate. I remember one time that my cousin, Susan, and I got into an argument over who would give the cookies to Granddaddy and who got stuck with the stranger. When it came to Thanksgiving or Christmas, Grandma would take Granddaddy home to celebrate with the family. I remember he slept in his old chair most of the day, but now I know that those were probably some of their favorite days, spending time at home together. Granddaddy died in July of 1996, and Grandma died a few months later. She was so devoted to her husband that she didn’t want to live without him.

Louise Swoboda cared about people. She was very giving, not only with gifts, but with her time. I got an extra aunt because my Grandma took her in as an “adopted” daughter. Mary loved Grandma as her own mother because of the care and time that she gave Mary’s family. I have almost as many memories with my “adopted” aunt as I do with my real aunt. I asked my mom about my grandma, and I found out Mary wasn’t the first. Grandma had a heart for teens and young women. She would invite them in her home and provide them with a meal and Godly counsel. I remember getting to know the small town of Globe, Arizona pretty well. Whenever I stayed with her, she would always be visiting someone. She liked to play dominoes with some ladies her age, she visited the homes of her pastor and his wife and their grown children, and she would even visit with and get to know some of the other residents in the nursing home. At home, she kept herself busy with phone calls, writing letters, baking, and caring for grandchildren. And she didn’t keep these traits to herself; she passed them on to those she came in contact with. She taught me and Susan how to decorate Christmas cookies, and more importantly, how to share with others and that giving is much better than receiving.

Louise Swoboda was a faithful servant, and her life is an example of her love for others. She was truly the matriarch who held our family together. Maybe she didn’t do everything perfect, but her love for God allowed her to become a great woman, at least in the eyes of those whose lives she touched. This will be my 15th Christmas without her, but I hope that her legacy will live on in my life.

With love to Grandma Louise (Ryan) Swoboda, you are and shall continue to be greatly missed. One day we will meet again in Heaven. Thanks for the treasured memories here on Earth.

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