Your first one there. You wanted so much to be with Grandpa again, and you are. I hope today was special for you. I’ve been thinking about you all day.
My memories of you go way, way back. I am so lucky to have had you for as many years as I did, and luckier still that I remember so many things about all the times we spent together.
When I was little, there was nothing that got me and Paul and Lori more excited than knowing we were going to Michigan to “Grandma and Grandpa Brink’s house!” I mean NOTHING. And no holidays have ever been quite as much fun as the Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings when all the aunts and uncles and cousins would come home. I remember cots and rollaways and beds made up on the floor, and no one cared. I remember as we grew older that there was the dinner table with all the original kids there, and the card table at the foot of it for the littlest ones, and the teens relegated to the kitchen or living room. I remember too when I got old enough to help the women in the kitchen, after dinner, putting food away or washing or drying dishes or whatever I was asked to do.
I remember how beautifully you sewed, the warm flannel nightgowns you made for all the granddaughters year after year (and how long I hung on to and wore the last one you’d made for me…….) and the year you made sweater vests for every single man in the family, from the littlest, cousin David, to Grandpa Brink himself. That was the year I got to meet my big brother Rich, for the first time, maybe one of the best Christmas presents EVER. And Mom still talks about a blue sweater dress you made for me that was one of the most beautiful things I ever owned. I felt like a princess every time I wore it.
I loved your kitchen. I loved how good the water tasted, well water, so cold and so clear. Whenever we were there I drank so much I sloshed the entire time. I loved the yellow and orange flowered wallpaper. I loved the everyday silverware so much I bought it from you at your yard sale (and did you know that Mom bought more pieces for me, as a Christmas gift when I found some on eBay?) and now it is MY everyday silverware. The Queen Bess pattern, and handling it every day as I set the table keeps you very close to me. I love having old tin measuring cups and a cookie plate that were your mother’s, and having table linens you once treasured. And a dear, dear friend tracked down a cookie jar for me this last year, not long after you left us, just because I’d always loved yours and I missed you so much.
I loved going to church with you. I loved whenever we came for a visit and you would make sure we got to the right Sunday school class. I loved being married in that same church years later, and most of all I loved that Mom made my wedding dress with YOU in mind. It was my second marriage, you know, and I knew I shouldn’t wear white. My dress was pink, and so lovely, and when I told you it had mattered very much to me that you would not be unhappy with what I’d chosen, that being appropriate and proper mattered to you, and because of that, it mattered to me, too….well, I will never forget the look on your face.
And how I loved what you said to me that day, do you remember? It rained, as it had every day that month. And you hugged me in the receiving line and said that you and Grandpa had been praying for a sunny day for me, and you were so disappointed that morning to see it was raining again. It WAS a grey and gloomy day, to be sure, but then you said the most perfect thing….”I’m glad now it isn’t sunny, because if it had been, we would never have seen how you two lit up the church when you looked at each other.”
That was so great, Grandma. SO great. I have said it to every single bride I know if she didn’t have a sunny wedding day. Did you know that?
I loved how you arranged so many details around your home. The minute there were wildflowers in the woods behind your house, you had a vase of them on the kitchen table. All these years I’ve worked at camp, I did the same thing, another way of feeling your presence with me. I know you and Grandpa loved Lake Louise, and I have always wanted my work there to be something you would be proud of, have my work and my service be such that you would love to tell people “That’s my granddaughter in that kitchen!”
I loved how you loved my Grandpa. I loved hearing you say, even twenty five years after he was gone Home, that he was the love of your life. I loved the little jokes you two had, loved seeing you dozing side by side in your recliners, loved how you’d putter in your sewing room or flower beds or whatever and he’d be in town doing errands or out in the garage or whatever, but at lunch time you would sit down together, and reconnect.
I loved your sense of adventure. You went to India! Do you know I still have the little trinkets you brought back? the doll, and the bracelets? And I loved your sense of fun. I remember looking up once to see you and some of your church friends circling around the yard with sparklers one evening, and I believe you enjoyed them as much as any kid would have. I loved playing board games with you. I will never, ever, EVER forget Trivial Pursuit with you and Grandpa, and how Gerald and Grandpa were teasing each other with “East or West?” when it came to Germany. You actually clapped your hands like a little girl, it was so much fun.
I loved, most of all, I think, always being so proud to say, “My grandparents are Bill and Doris Brink. Do you know them?”
Store up treasures in Heaven, they teach us. Grandma, you and Grandpa are two of my dearest treasures there. I’ll see you when He calls me Home, too.
Until then….Happy Birthday. I love you so much.