Saturday, December 30, 2017

A Little about Gram

Dear Serena, Bret, and Cody,

I want to write down a few things for you about Gram to help you remember her in the coming years.

Gram was born on September 13, 1934. The world was very different back then, and she attended a one-room school house as a child! She married my Grandpa, Dean Rabe on January 25, 1953. She had three sons: Keith, Kevin, and Kent. My daddy, Kevin, was born on April 20, 1957. Gram died on December 27, 2017.

Gram would probably say that the most important day of her life was the day she was saved, October 31, 1975, at her brother-in-law's funeral. She celebrated that day every year, and I got a text from her every Halloween reminding me that it was the day she was saved and rejoicing that "the devil lost me that day! Thank you, Jesus! I John 2:15-17." ("Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.") Gram loved to share her testimony. She was never shy about telling others about Jesus, and there are many people who were saved through Gram's witnessing about Jesus' salvation. Even in the letters and cards that Gram wrote to you three, Gram always wrote about Jesus. "I'm glad to hear you love Jesus! I love Him, too!" 

Growing up, we never lived near our grandparents, so we tried to make the most of our visits and store up our memories from our times together. Gram was a great one for treasuring memories. She kept notebooks of memories, and wrote on the back of every picture to help herself remember all the details. One of my favorite memories as a young child is playing Sunday School Bus with Gram. Gram was the "bus driver," and all we kids would be the kids she was picking up to take to Sunday School. The "bus" was on the stairs, and we would take turns "being invited" to church, and then we'd sit behind Gram on the "bus" and we'd all have a great time "bumping" along to church! Gram loved to sing Sunday School songs with us, too! I mostly remember singing "1-2-3, Jesus Loves Me" and "Jesus Loves Even Me" with her. I think those were her favorites. 

When I was little, Gram did a lot of sewing for us. She made adorable matching outfits for all her granddaughters every year for many years! She did beautiful work! She also crocheted sometimes. She made each of you a special blanket when you were born, and I loved having a soft, handmade blanket made with love to wrap my newborn babies in! Gram taught me how to sew when she would come to visit. I'm not sure at what age exactly, but I do have quite a few doll clothes that I made! I hand-stitched a lot of those little clothes, and came up with my own patterns for many of them. She gave me scraps of lace and ribbon, and random buttons that I loved using on the things I made. She taught me how to use a pattern and sew with a sewing machine sometime between the ages of 10-12, I think. You know that is a skill that I still use and enjoy now! I think Gram valued the domestic arts a lot. She loved handmade things and making things personal and pretty. 

Another thing Gram taught me was how to make pies. I'm not sure how old I was when she taught me that, either. Probably between 10-12. Her recipe was 2 cups flour, 1 tsp salt, 2/3 cup Crisco, and 1/4 cup ice water. Gram made beautiful pies and was known for them among her friends. She taught me how to patiently roll out the crust (her recipe had a tendency to flake off, so it needed a lot of TLC!), carefully transfer it to a dish, fill it, add a top crust, and then pinch the edges to look pretty. I use a different pie crust recipe now (butter is so much more forgiving than Crisco!), but pies are still one of my favorite things to make in the kitchen! Thanks to Gram, I have never used a store-bought pie crust!

Gram was a very good cook, I remember. She loved to teach me how to make different recipes, and many of them I still use. The cinnamon roll recipe was hers, and the sugar cookies, and she made the best peanut brittle (though I haven't made that since Serena was a baby; maybe we'll try it next year). But the thing I remember most about eating at Gram's house was her pretty table. She always had a table cloth, a center piece, multiple pieces of cutlery and multiple sizes of plates and bowls at each setting, pretty glasses, pretty serving dishes, etc. Everything was plated and lovely. She took pride in setting a pretty table.

Gram always did some gardening. She was especially fond of growing sweet corn, and she would freeze a bunch of it every year. She made the best refrigerated dill pickles when I was a kid; I have the recipe for that, and we'll try it some day when we have some extra refrigerator space! And she loved to grow iris. I remember once she took us to a beautiful iris farm (I have no idea where!), and we got to pick out a bulb. There were so many beautiful colors! Iris are a very showy flower, with big, ruffly petals. I think we'll plant some in Gram's memory. She would like that.

There are a couple things that always make me think of Gram. First, cardinals. She loved cardinals. She loved anything red, really. It was her favorite color, and she wore it often and looked so pretty in it! Also, apples. All our apple dishes came from Gram. She had 24 place settings, if I remember right, and every extra dish you can imagine. Her kitchen was decorated with lots of cute apple things.

One of the things that we did every time Gram came to visit us as kids was go shopping. My memories of this start when we were living in Minnesota and my mom (Grammie) and Gram would drive us an hour away to the city of Mankato, which had the nearest shopping mall. Then, Grammie & Gram would drag us all over the mall; but we liked it for three reasons. First, because we got to eat in the food court, which meant we had our choice of about 10 different fast food restaurants. I remember I always picked Sbarro. I loved their greasy pizza and their soft, warm breadsticks with the big clumps of garlic seasoning and parmesan on top! Secondly, we liked our trips to the mall in Mankato because we always got to ride the carousel! Gram would buy us tokens, and we'd pick our favorite horse (oh, the agony of that decision!) and we'd wave to Gram, Grammie, and (of course) the carousel operator every time we went around! And the third reason we loved our shopping trips with Gram was the Dollar Store. The mall in Mankato had a Dollar Store, and Gram would give us a few dollars to spend in there. The best thing I ever bought at that Dollar Store was a big blue backpack with pink trim. My sisters also each bought one, and we used those every time we went somewhere. We'd pack them to the max and dragged them along on our trips Illinois and Missouri, and somehow they held together for years!

Gram loved to play piano and have us all sing. I remember when we were little she would play us a song after we went to bed, and then we'd beg her for another...and another...and another...until the grown-ups told us "that's enough! Goodnight!" Heehee! Our favorite song that Gram would play was "Princeton Loyalty." It was the school song at Princeton High School, and written by Gram's cousin (I think). I have a copy of it and I'll play it for you sometime! When we got older and were able to play, she loved to listen to us. She was a wonderful encouragement to our musical endeavors. Gram loved teaching piano lessons, and it made her heart so happy whenever she found an eager, hard-working student! Gram was always involved in the music of her church through the years, whether at the piano or at the organ. She taught me how to play the organ and the accordion; but I haven't been able to play either for at least 10 years, so I don't know how much I would remember!

Another thing we did every time we were with Gram was play games. Gram loved to play games. When I was little, she had a few travel-size games that she would bring along when she visited. Our favorite was Junior Monopoly. When we got older, we played a lot of Rummikub and Mexican Train dominoes with her. Those were the nights that we would laugh so hard that our cheeks hurt by the time we went to bed! I don't even know what we would find to laugh so hard about, but it must have been pretty funny! 

Gram had lots of little phrases that she loved to use. I know I'll think of more as time goes on, so I'll add them in later. For now, only three come immediately to mind. When we'd play games, every time Gram rolled a 3, she would move her game piece and say, "1, 2, 3, Jesus loves me!" Another phrase that Gram loved to say was, "You have not because you ask not." She found all sorts of unconventional situations to apply that phrase to! And, when we'd say goodbye at the end of a visit, she'd almost always say, "See you here (and then she'd point down), there (and then she'd point out), or in the air (and then she'd point to heaven)!" 

It was very important to Gram to build a relationship with each of you, her "Great-grands," as she would say. About a year ago, she agreed to be pen pals with Serena to give Serena some practice with her cursive handwriting. Gram faithfully wrote Serena a letter about once a week, always thinking of interesting little things to tell her and encouraging Serena in her schoolwork, piano playing, and living for Jesus. Gram loved to snuggle you all and read books with you. She was so excited this Christmas to hear each of you play your piano songs for her. It made her really happy that you are learning to play. Every Christmas since I can remember, Gram made a special birthday cake for Jesus, which was basically an edible Wordless Book. She even had little cards that she had written Bible verses on to go along with the cake. It was a layered chocolate cake (of course, beautifully plated), and the dark inside was meant to remind us how our hearts were black with sin. She made a pretty, fluffy white frosting, and covered the entire cake with it so we could not see the chocolate. The white frosting was to remind us that the Bible says that Jesus' blood and forgiveness of our sins would make us white as snow. The birthday candles were red, to remind us of Jesus' blood which He shed on the cross for us. The gold flame was to remind us of the streets of gold in heaven, where God's family will live eternally. And then, Gram would decorate the sides of the cake with some plastic evergreen leaves to remind us to grow in Christ each day by reading our Bibles and praying.

Gram would want you know that she is in heaven now. She is with Jesus, Who she talked about and loved so much here on this earth. She is reunited with so many people she loved, including my Grandpa, my uncle Keith, my little cousin Michelle, and of course, my Dad (your Grandpa Kevin). I had always envisioned Gram being a part of our lives here on earth for many more years, and it makes me a little sad that she is gone from us already. But I don't think I've ever known anyone who was more in love with Jesus and saturated with Scripture as Gram was. I'm glad you knew her for the few years that you did, that you got to experience her kisses and hugs, and that you got to hear from her lips of Jesus' love for you. Someday we'll see Gram again, and (as Gram would say), "What a day that will be!"

The last time we saw Gram, December 23, 2017

No comments: