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GRANDMA EMMETT

March 20, 2015

My grandma was incredible. We usually call her Grandma Emmett, but she's Grandma Norda and just Grandma, too. She was so funny and full of energy. Always serving, always busy, always working. She was selfless and put her family before everything. 
^^^ visiting my Grandpa's grave Christmas 2011

The only time I ever remember being alone with just me and both my Emmett grandparents was once after my junior year of high school when I was visiting Utah by myself. The three of us went to IHOP for dinner because my grandma really liked the crepes there. (Which I thought was so random and cute.) While we were eating, my grandma noticed a Bed Bath and Beyond store across the parking lot. She started raving about her recent experience there. "I went to Bed Bath and Beyond, and they don't just have things for bedrooms and bathrooms! They sell so much for your kitchen and your living room and your dining room and..." Then my cute grandpa, while raising his class to take a drink, and without making eye contact with anyone quietly said, "I think they covered all that in the 'Beyond' part..." Hahaha, and that is all I remember about that day. Oh! Except my grandpa asking if I bought my jeans with the holes already in them... Oops.

Last semester I needed to interview a grandparent for my Family Recreation class. The assignment was to find out how recreation had changed over their lifetime. My grandma first told me about a few games she and her friends would play when they were young, but not long into the interview she began talking about work. She started working at JCPenney when she was twelve, and I don't think she ever stopped from there. During the interview I kept trying to ask her about what she did for fun in her free time, but it quickly became apparent she never had much free time. Too much work to do, too many kids to raise, too many people to help. I know she didn't mind, though. I know those are the ways she really wanted to spend her time, anyway.
^^^ at the Brigham City temple open house. My grandma grew up in Brigham, and I remember her commenting on every beautiful painting she saw in the temple that day.

My family stayed at my Grandma and Grandpa Emmett's house every year for Christmas. Well, basically every time we went to Utah, which was essentially the only vacation destination we ever had. I swear time stands still in that beautiful, magical house. That house feels more like home to everyone in our family than any of our own homes do. It has two huge trees outside that definitely aren't pines, but somehow the house was still nicknamed The Twin Pine Ranch. Also "ranch" makes it sound like.. a ranch. It's not, it's right in middle of an old neighborhood in Logan, UT, not far from the Utah State campus. Almost very room is that house is assigned a color based on all the furniture and fabric inside it. The green room, red room, pink room.. But then there are others like the play room and Grandma Fife's room. (My grandma's mom - she had both her legs amputated at the knee so she moved in and my grandma cared for her for fifteen years before she passed away. Always always serving.)
^^^ my sisters and I with our grandma at a cousin's mission farewell.

When I was a kid, the basement was really the only part of that house I knew. My cousins and I watched Lloyd down there way too many times to count. (Has anyone seen that?) We also recreated scenes from the Parent Trap more times than we would ever admit. We never went into the food storage closet or that other scary closet with the bamboo patterned fabric door. We played school and barbies in the play room, played pool out in the main room, and fought over the bongo board endlessly. Does anyone have one of those things/know what they are!? The best. 

We were never allowed to be "bored" at my grandma's house. In fact "bored" was the "B word." Although sometimes if you slipped and said it she would just offer you a quarter to clean something. I'll also never forget the treat drawer that slowly became the snack drawer over time. What was once filled with tootsie rolls and starbursts slowly became stuffed with fruit snacks and goldfish.. much less intriguing. Even little Erin needed lots of sugar, I guess.
^^^ Grandma Emmett with (almost) all of her posterity. A few were Facetiming, and a few were missing.

Every Christmas evening the entire extended family packed ourselves upstairs for a huge dinner. After dinner we had a nativity featuring everyone who felt they were the appropriate age to be featured. Aaand some people who didn't feel they were the appropriate age, plus some just plain old stubborn kids. So many kids forced by their parents to be angels and shepherds.. Everyone in the nativity always had great costumes to use, thanks to my grandparents' trips to Israel. And I swear we always had a real baby or two or three to play Jesus because this family is so huge. 

Then some of the talented grandkids would put on a talent show. Lots of piano playing, but the best pianist was my grandma who played the same set of Christmas songs every year while her entire family squiiiished into her front room and sang along. That tradition is one I hope I can keep my whole life. There is literally nothing better! And Christmas does not feel like Christmas without that whole evening program. 
^^^ I remember we weren't even sure if my grandma would make it to our wedding over a year ago. But she was there at the sealing and at the reception! Look at her cute tiny self in the background of this picture! She made it into a lot of these pictures we took in front of the doors, and I totally love it.
^^^ always loving on her grandkids
^^^ always
^^^ always

My grandma seriously said the funniest stuff. One year we were talking about untraditionally colored Christmas decorations and she goes, "I don't care if you do have cancer, pink is not a Christmas color!" (As she was suffering from cancer..) 

Last week my cousin Emily told a story about watching So You Think You Can Dance with our grandma. Out of nowhere she goes, "Armpit dancing just does not appeal to me." ...me neither?

She had so much spunk.

My grandma had been pretty sick for over a year, but she really started to decline toward the end of last month. She passed away peacefully just a couple minutes before my sister and I walked inside to visit her. I was talking to Stefan about it later, and he said he thinks I made it there two minutes late because I was supposed to. And I agree with that. Driving over to see her, I wasn't sure what it would be like. The last time I had seen my grandma she was up and moving and, while not exactly the healthiest, she was in good spirits. I didn't know how it would feel or how I would act when I saw her so weak, frail, and bedridden. I didn't know what I would say besides, I love you Grandma. Because I do, I love her so much. I wouldn't say we were especially close. I grew up far away from her and only saw her a couple times each year. But she made me feel so loved every time I saw her. She taught me so much just by the way she lived. I will always value my family, the Gospel, home cooked meals, carrying on traditions, traveling, serving, and working hard because I have my grandma to look to as a near perfect example of all those things. 

It was an interesting feeling at first to realize she was gone. I knew I would miss her, and I knew a lot of things would change soon. But my grandpa has been gone for a few years, and from the moment he passed my grandma was ready to join him. That's another funny story Emily told! She said one time our grandma was with her family at a parade, and grandma decided she was ready to go. After a few minutes she said it again, "I'm ready to go, but no one will come get me!" Emily goes, "My dad is just going to get the car and then he's coming to pick you up." And then Grandma, hahaha, pointing up toward the sky, "No, I mean I'm ready to go and John won't come get me!" So for her sake, we're happy he finally did.
^^^ most of the grandkids at the cemetery

Although I do remember talking with her a few days after my grandpa's funeral and telling her she couldn't go be with her husband again until she met whoever it was I was going to marry, because I wanted him to know her. She distinctly told me I had four years to find him. And I am forever grateful Stefan was able to meet and know my Grandma Norda. 

I feel so blessed to be a member of her family. To have known her and loved her and learned from her. 
^^^My whole immediate family at the gravesite

One thing I didn't mention about our Christmas tradition is that among all the favorite songs we sang, one always stood out the most. Years ago my grandma decided to change the words to a verse in "Home for the Holiday" to be about her own family. So instead of singing about a man headed from Tennessee to Pennsylvania, we always sang about our family. Each year the verse was different. It started out with lyrics about where my grandma's sons had served missions or lived. Over the years that verse was used to welcome in new members of the family - by birth or marriage. We decided at her funeral, all the grandkids would sing "Home for the Holidays" with a special verse written just for Grandma:

"Oh, there's no place like home for the holidays / 'Cause no matter how far away you roam / When you pine for the sunshine of a friendly gaze / For the holidays you can't beat home, sweet home / Our Grandma Emmett always welcomed us into her lovely home / There we'd visit, play, and feast with those we love / In love we gather now to send her to her mansion up above / Save a place for us, we'll join you there and gather all together / Oh, there's no place like home for the holidays / 'Cause no matter how far away you roam / If you want to be happy in a million ways / For the holidays you can't beat home sweet home"

Most of us made it through about "Our Grandma Emmett" and then started crying so hard we couldn't sing the rest. But I still can't think of a better tribute for this beautiful woman. I'm grateful to know I'll see her again and get to know her even better. I know this post is a mile long, but I could seriously keep going until it's twice as long! It's good to be an Emmett.
^^^ "the whole fam damily." yes, we photoshopped the tent to say "Emmett" instead of the mortuary's name.

8 comments :

Jake said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Thanks for sharing your memories and love for grandma Norda. She really did love you and was so very proud of you. My guess is that she loves this post too except for one thing...it has too many pictures of her and not enough of the grandkids and great-grandkids But, I think that's covered in the title of this post. It's Grandma Emmett not Grandma Emmett and Beyond (although there is enough 'Beyond' in there to make her happy).

Very well done. Thanks.

Emily B said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

The best. Loved the story of Bed, Bath, and Beyond! We are the luckiest to have Grandma and Grandpa Emmett.

missy said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Erin,
I love this tribute to your grandma. She sounds like an amazing woman.

Erin van de Graaff said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

haha there are a lot of pictures.. I don't have many/any with her when I was little so I had to make up for it the past few years!

Erin van de Graaff said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

We are the luckiest! I seriously loved your whole talk, but especially all those funny things Grandma said. I still laugh out loud every time I think about them!

Erin van de Graaff said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Thank you! She was certainly amazing. It's so fun to have a place online like this where I can keep all my memories and pictures with her in one place.

LauraP said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I LOVE that IHOP story. Haha! Classic Grandpa and Grandma.

Walton Baylor said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

That was a lovely way of honoring your grandma, Erin. She had a lot of spunk, as you have mentioned. It made me smile when I read the part where in she said "I don't care if you do have cancer, pink is not a Christmas color!" It is indeed an honor to be an Emmett, as she showered your family with love and care even when she had cancer. I hope wherever she may be, she knows that you are proud of her and that you look up to her. Thanks for sharing her lovely life.

Walton Baylor @ HomewatchCareGivers.com/Metro-Atlanta/East-Atlanta

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