Thursday, February 14, 2008

Gone to be with her Cowboy

My Gram died yesterday. She was 93 years old and went peacefully in her sleep. I wasn't able to answer my phone when my Mom called to tell me the news, so she left me a message that said, "She's gone to be with her Cowboy."

I don't even know how to put into words how much I love Gram, how much I will miss her. My initial reaction to the news was very similar to the way I felt when President Hinckley died a couple of weeks ago. I immediately thought of her reunion with Grandad, how much she loved him and how long she had been without him (17 years), and I felt joy for her. But as the reality of her being gone has set in, my heart is broken and I find myself bawling like a baby again and again.

There is no other person on this earth that I admire and respect more than my Gram, Jeanette Cox. We named our first daughter Lily Jeanette because I wanted to honor Gram, and always keep in remembrance the kind of person I wanted Lily to grow up to be. Gram was this absolutely amazing woman. She emigrated from Canada, working as a banker, then on a few dude ranches in Montana and Wyoming. She met Don Cox at the Mint Bar in Sheridan, Wyoming the day before the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941. They were engaged just a few weeks later and married in May 1942. They worked together on ranches their entire lives, raising horses and cattle. For most of the grandkids, our fondest memories are of the times spent with Gram and Grandad at Kearney Lake in the Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming.

Gram represented so many things for me, exuded so many positive qualities. What I will remember most about her is that she had such a capacity to love. She loved Don so much and she loved her 3 girls and all of us grandkids. I always felt so loved by Gram. She was so proud of her great-grandbabies. She had pictures displayed all over her little condo and she never missed an important event in her family's lives.

Gram was an exceptionally positive person. I can't ever remember her speaking ill of anyone. She was never negative, always cheerful and grateful for life's little blessings. She got such a kick out of the simplest things. She loved to write and receive letters, she loved to read, she loved the outdoors, she loved pictures.

Gram kept both her mind and her body alive and thriving. She had a trip planned to Wendover with the seniors on the morning she died! She was 93 years old and she still went swimming at the Rec Center three times a week. She went on a trip to Cancun with my brother Don, I think in 1999, and she went snorkeling! They wrote an article in the newspaper about her and everything. She emailed and got a kick out of reading my blog and seeing all the pictures of the girls. She lived on her own, drove her car just about every day, hung out with the Red Hat Society ladies, went to lunch at the Senior Center, frequented the library, did crossword puzzles everyday, and just lived life to the fullest.

I can't imagine a better way to grow old than the way Gram did it. She was so blessed to have good health (due surely in part to her active lifestyle) and when she died yesterday, she wasn't even sick. It was such a surprise to all of us, I thought for sure she'd live to see her 100th birthday. But she got to die peacefully, in her own home, surrounded by the things she loved, dreaming of her Cowboy. You can't ask for a better way to go than that.

Here are just a few of my favorite photos of Gram:

Age 3 or 4, love those boots!

Jeanette in her early 20's, wearing a thunderbird necklace with turquoise (her absolute favorite kind of jewelry.) Gram gave me this necklace a few years ago and I treasure it, along with the turquoise ring of Grandad's that she gave me when I graduated from high school.

I believe this was Gram's wedding portrait, taken with the family heirloom cameo that I believe belonged to her grandmother, Old Gram. It's been a family tradition over the generations for each bride to wear this cameo for her wedding. If you look at the wedding photo on my ABC post, you'll see I'm wearing the cameo as a pin instead of on a chain.

Don and Jeanette on their wedding day in 1942.

I love this picture of Don and Jeanette and their two older girls in 1950. My mom's on the right and Aunt Jane is on the left.

Awhile later, along came Elizabeth. I get such a kick out of this picture (taken in 1952) because Liz looks just as ornery and unruly as her oldest son Josh turned out to be! My mom is in the middle.

1962, headed to the Fort Worth, TX stock show to sell some Angus bulls. I love the comfortable companionship Gram and Grandad shared with one another.

Gram loved to laugh! She always had a smile on her face and was always so happy to see you. This was taken in August 1972 at one of the parades in Sheridan, Wyoming. Man, I loved going to those parades as a kid! If I remember correctly, we would stake out a spot near Gram's bank and just have a great time watching the horses and cowboys and waiting for the clowns to throw candy.

This is how I remember Gram and Grandad. Together at Kearney Lake, enjoying the beauty of the land God created for us. 1981.

Gram was always stylish. Whenever we had birthday parties or get-togethers for holidays, she'd have on some sweet leisure suit with her pink cowboy boots. She was so proud of all of us grandkids. This photo was taken in 2003 when my cousin Josh gave her a newly printed hat from his construction business.

This photo of Gram, my Mom, Lily, and me what taken in November 2003 when our car, which my parents bought new in 1986 and later sold to Dan and I, rolled 300,000 miles. Gram was a Honda girl, driving her 1979 Honda Accord hatchback, "The Silver Bullet" until just a few months ago when she moved up to a 1989 Accord. Now that's some customer loyalty!

Gram loved it when the girls and I went to visit her. We went occasionally for tea parties with real tea (herbal) using her mother's tea set from way back in the day. I have lots of great photos from our tea parties that really deserve a post all of their own. This photo was taken this past Halloween, 2007. What a spunky lady Gram was!

My beautiful Gram. This is the photo, along with the thunderbird necklace photo, that will go in her obituary in this Sunday's paper.

All who knew Gram could identify her by her turtle ring. It was the one thing that she always had on, no matter what. I love these beautiful hands. Worn and seasoned by work and love. Every time Gram would greet me, she would give me a hug, then as she pulled away, she would grab my hands and give them a little squeeze.
Oh, how I will miss my Gram. I hope I can live a life that will make her proud and be a tribute to the wonderful example she was to all of us.


Anonymous said...

wow, sue... I think that there is nothing else that really needs to be said, my favorite thing about you, is how you tell your story through pictures!

Hil said...

What a beautiful tribute to your Gran. I'm touched and your family will be in my prayers.

Spymommy said...

Sorry to hear about your Gran, Sue. What a sweet tribute to her. And the picture of her hands . . . that's what I want mine to look like - hands that have lived life to the fullest! Love you!

The Nelson Family said...

So sorry about your gram. She sounded like an amazing woman - brought back memories of when Ida died (Jane's namesake too) and how I want to be remembered when I die.
Love you -

Matt said...

Sorry to hear about your grandmother's passing. It is comforting to have a knowledge of the Plan of Salvation during moments like this in life.

I love the old large format photos of your grandmother. Even though digital technology is amazing I still think the detail of a large format image seems richer and more vibrant.

Kris said...

I'm thinking of you. What a wonderful person your gram was, so amazing! It is always hard to lose someone you love.

Emily said...

Thank you Sue for doing something that we can all look at and read about Gram. It's amazing to think how fun it must have been for you all to grow up with two such amazing and inspirational grandparents. I love thinking of the two of them together watching over there amazing family and thinking look at what an amazing job we did. Thank you Sue for your amazing talent and sharing it with all of us.

Josh and Jenn said...

Sue this was such a great tribute to Gram. We are so lucky to have all of those wonderful photos that you have taken of her.I love the picture of her in the Pilch Construction hat.
I have never seen it before. I am also thankful that you planned such a wonderful reunion this last year. I know she has such a great time being there with all of us. We are going to miss her so much, but I think your title says it all, she's "gone to be with her cowboy."

The Queen Vee said...

Sue, what an amazing beautiful woman. Blessed too, as we would all like to leave this earth life the way your Gram did.

The photos were wonderful as usual, they tell a powerful story.

I know you are going to miss your Gram very much but lucky you to have had her for so long in your life. You also are a blessed woman to have such a great heritage and wonderful genes and DNA.

Thank you for sharing such a loving and lovely tribute to a much loved Grandma.

Anderson Zoo Keepers said...

Hi again Sue, I'm fully blog-stalking today but I'm glad I found yours especially. My grandmother is almost 95 and while she's in relatively good health, these amazing ladies are such treasures. It was wonderful reading about yours. Thanks for sharing!!

Anonymous said...

I can't put into words what I'm thinking right now for you. I have fond memories of the times I was in Salt Lake of Gram.

I will talk to you today.


Hollyween said...

This is such a sweet post to your Grandma! I'm so sorry for your loss. But thanks for touching my heart today.

Becky in Wyo said...

I can't believe I haven't commented in so long! I'm such a slacker! Just wanted to say how much I appreciate all the work you and Mom did over the past week to put together the photos and remembrances about our Gram. Thank you so much. Love, your sis.

Sara said...

Oh, Susie... I am so sorry to hear about Gram. I haven't been in touch for a while and had no idea... She was a great Lady and I loved her. I am glad she has gone home "to be with her cowboy" but know she will be dearly missed by those in your family and by those who loved her.

What a beautiful tribute you have created for her. I bet it was probably a very healing process for you to go through. When both of my grandparents passed away, I found myself immersed in all I had left of them, the photos. I created display boards for the Viewing and a Memorial Slideshow/Photo CD. It was a wonderful thing for me to create and I loved sharing it with everyone in our family. I am sure all of your hardwork was appreciated.

Groves Family Website said...

I have been building a family reunion website and as I was doing research I came across your Cox family reunion blog which led me here to read and... just for a moment get to know your Gram. She sounds and looks to be a beautiful woman inside and out. Though I never got to know my grandparents, I am feeling the pain from losing my dad last year, when at just 58 he lost his long 10 year battle with oancriatic cancer.

Reading what you wrote put a welll needed smile on my face.
I thankyou and your Gram for that.