My grandmother, Sara Kate Mashaw, or as I have always known her “Meme”, was diagnosed with cancer over a year ago and decided not to undergo any surgeries or aggressive treatments. She wanted to let things run their course and continue living her life as normally as possible for as long as possible.
We are now drawing close to the finish line.
This is one of those circumstances that make living far away from family very difficult. There are phone calls, texts and emails but none of those can actually put me by her side saying my goodbyes in person or sitting around the living room with family trading stories through laughter and tears.
Since I can’t be there in person right now. I wanted to take some time to write down a few thoughts and share them for my family and anyone else who would like to read them.
- The most energetic human being I’ve ever met – Until recently I’ve rarely seen her sitting down for very long. Even when she was visiting us here in Florida a couple months ago and the sickness had clearly taken its toll on her body, she was stubbornly insistent on playing tennis with Kate (our 6 year old). I was terrified about how this was going to turn out but I couldn’t convince her otherwise so we we hit the courts. And formed, what I hope will be, a lasting memory for Kate.
- A better golfer than I will ever be – Golf is the official past time of my dad’s side of the family. I’ll be honest and say I didn’t inherit their skills but I did pick up a lot from their trash talking abilities as we sat around the dinner table.
- An adventurous spirit – My grandfather built a sailboat in his backyard (No joke! A really nice sailboat). And they sailed up and down the Eastern Seaboard from Virginia to the Keyes, the Bahamas, etc…. She LOVED the outdoors and travelled a lot, even after my grandfather (“Pops”) had died. She would tell us stories while we were together about her latest travels that always made me feel like my life is WAY to boring.
- The Greenest of Thumbs – Meme has always loved to spend time getting her hands dirty and cultivating life in the many beautiful gardens and beds around the house. Some of my most vivid memories from childhood are playing in those hedges and trees with my brother and cousins. And as we’ve grown, those same hedges and trees have been a stunning backdrop for many of our most special occasions – weddings, receptions and bridal and baby showers. There is no more nostalgic place on earth for me than that beautiful yard.
- A Tireless Servant – Meme volunteered at a thrift shop run by her church for as long as I can remember. Literally up until the day that she could no longer physically get around. “Lazy” has never been a word uttered in the same breath with her name. She is the energizer bunny of serving others.
- A Passive-Agressive Gift Giver – If birthday and Christmas gifts were any indicator… she REALLY wanted her grandchildren to read. I’m pretty sure that every year of my childhood for birthday and Christmas I got a used book with one dollar bills stuck randomly between the pages. The idea was that we would eagerly read the book and collect the money as we went. What actually happened is we grabbed the book by the spine and shook it until the money fell out. I never read any of those books, but I do actually love to read now, so maybe she influenced me by suggestion.
- A Humble Follower of Jesus – Meme was committed to Jesus and to her church. Her faith was not loud or self-righteous. It was steady, humble and visible through her compassion and service to others. “But someone will say, ‘You have faith and I have works.’ Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. ” – James 2:18
- A Terrible Liar – Meme would sometimes try to trick us into eating vegetables by disguising their identity, i.e. – serving Okra and telling us it’s french fries. For a while, I just thought she was really bad at making things like french fries but it didn’t take long to uncover the truth.
- A Thrifty Spender – It was not unheard of for Meme to search the grocery store for damaged items and try to get a bargain price or to make dinner with food that was just a little expired.
- A Never-wavering source of love and encouragement – As far as grandparents go, I can’t imagine someone more consistent. She was consistently quirky (in the most lovable ways), but most more importantly and more memorably she was consistently encouraging to us.
I have a deep love and respect for Meme and the more I learn about her life the more that grows. I couldn’t be more proud that our daughter carries part of her name and I pray that our Kate will grow into the same kind of passionate, determined and loving woman as Sara Kate.