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.