"It's never too late to be who you might have been."-- George Eliot
My husband's grandma passed away last week. She was 100 years old. Today, I wanted to share a few of the many things I learned from Grandma Ruth Jamison.
Teaching Herself to Read
About eight years ago, Grandma had a severe case of pneumonia and almost died. Because of the trauma, she suffered some brain damage and lost her ability to read. The weird thing was, though, that she still remembered how to teach people to read because, in her younger years, she'd been a teacher. Being the persistent woman she was, she got some phonics materials from her daughter and taught herself to read again (even though she was about ninety-two at the time.) By the time my first book came out, she was reading at an adult level and could read my book. She also read my second book and planned to read my third. She always read the paper, church materials, and other good books.
Her husband died forty-six years before she did. That meant she spent most of her adult life as a widow. She always told me that bad things were going to happen anyway, she might as well be as happy as she could about the good things.
Grandma taught herself to do just about everything. She cut hair, sewed , wielded power tools, and gardened. If she wanted to do something, she just jumped in and learned how. When she wanted a bathroom off her master bedroom, she built one. When she needed a better way to crack walnuts, she built herself this tool:
She wasn't afraid of failure. She tried things and if they didn't work, she tried again. She had this saying about a bad haircut: "I do not mind it for I am behind it. It's the folks in front that get the jar."
She had a strong testimony of our church and of God's love for everyone. She stayed close to the spirit and often gave us the exact advice we needed to hear. A few years ago, I was having a hard time with my role as the bishop's wife because my husband is a secret-keeper extraordinaire--as in he doesn't even tell me things he should. I kept talking to other bishops' wives I knew, trying to get advice. No one understood. Then I drove down to Provo for a field trip for one of my kids and stopped in to visit Grandma Jamison. Within minutes of my arrival, she told me some stories that made me feel so much better. I hadn't even asked for her help. She answered my prayers without knowing what was bothering me.
I know this makes it sound like Grandma Jamison was perfect. We all knew she wasn't. She accepted her imperfections, even laughed at them sometimes, but she never let them defeat her.