Friday, January 26, 2007

Veda Mae Gilbert, Memory Eternal

I haven't written since Tuesday even though there has been a lot to write about--Simon is laughing and David drew his first self portrait. But it seemed disrespectful to not first write about a great loss in our family.

Our phone rang at 3:00 am last Tuesday morning. As I made my way to the phone, I prayed that it was a wrong number. No one wants the kind of phone call you get at 3:00 am. It was not a wrong number. It was That call. It was about my grandmother. She collapsed earlier that evening and was ambulanced to the hospital. I spoke with the nurse later on. He said that she was conscious, awake, and communicating. Then, he turned around to do some paper work, and when he turned back, she was gone.

The week since then has been one long hectic day of coordinating arranging, crying, consoling, and wandering around in a disbelieving stupor. The funeral was Friday. She was buried on Sunday.

During the sharing portion of the memorial service, I said something like this:
Veda was a person with a very strong sense of right and wrong. She had great moral clarity and was also very outspoken making her, at times, somewhat opinionated. Her sense of right and wrong was so strong that she could actually be hurt when she saw someone making wrong choices.

This could be a little difficult to deal with because there are many times in my life when we disagreed about right and wrong and didn't feel like she should feel injured by my decision. Of course she was very often correct, but sometimes, we simply had to disagree and deal with it. Somewhere in my teens I realized that if I was making a decision for myself that Veda would not take kindly to, the best approach was the direct one. Be straight, assume she is an adult that can handle the truth, and tell her what is going on. When I did this, she wasn't shy about letting me know where I was wrong, but she never wavered in her love and acceptance of me.

Because of this, I learned what unconditional love looks like. When I eventually recognized that in another woman, I married her. Veda also taught me that integrity is the best course. Be honest and direct and let the chips fall where they may. These lessons have served me very well and kept me more-or-less on a straight path--or I at least return to that path eventually. I never consider two options in my life without thinking about what Veda and Gib would think about it--they are my own personal "what would Jesus do?".

In the course of the visitation, funeral, burial, visits to the house, calls, cards, and online condolences, we heard from over 400 people over the last week. I know that the majority of these who knew Veda personally also saw in some measure this sense of morality combined with love that I saw. I know it touched and guided them too. I know that all of us will continue to be guided by Veda and that her memory will be eternal.

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