Friday, June 22, 2012

Reentry into the Blogosphere with a Tribute

After an 8 month hiatus from blogging, it's time to start up again. It's been awhile, so bear with me as I get back into the swing of things.

I decided that my re-entry into blogging should be with a tribute to my grandmother, who died a little over a month ago, and from whom I inherited a love of writing. Growing up within 10 minutes of her, I spent time with her on (at least) a weekly basis, and she was instrumental in shaping me into the woman I am today. I was visiting Romania when she passed, though I was able to see her the week before I traveled. While it was hard to be away from my family during that time, the Lord gave me these beautiful words to help me process, share in that with my family, and celebrate her life. My mom read this at the funeral, and I am grateful that it was a blessing to many.

Without further adieu, my tribute to Pauline McGee:

I am a McGee through and through. I come from a wonderful line of cookie-making, loud-laughing, card-playing, show-tunes singing women, and count it one of the great blessings of my life to be a granddaughter of Pauline McGee. It was only when I went to college and as I have continued into adult life that I realized not every kid in my generation grew up seeing their grandparents on a weekly basis, playing an organ in the living room of a farm house, or singing “Oklahoma!” at the top of her lungs with her aunts. I also didn’t realize that it was perhaps a bit unusual that I learned to shuffle cards before I learned to tie my shoes. But alas, this is how we do things in the McGee clan.

As I look at my life, I can’t help but see Ma’s hand in so much of who I am and who I aspire to be… I love telling stories, going to Broadway shows, writing, cooking dinner for 4 or 8 or 20, making cookies, serving in church, gathering friends for a game of Charades, and looking for new adventures to undertake. The McGee family has shaped and molded the woman I am today, and Ma was unquestionably central to that process. Her fingerprints, encouragement, and advice are woven through it all.

From Ma I learned loyalty. I learned how to play 500, Gin Rummy, and Hearts. I learned how to lose at Yahtzee, as the dice always seemed to roll just right for her. I inherited a love of pot roast, mashed potatoes, peas, and gravy; a belief that every family member should be at every holiday; and an appreciation for routinely making and sharing meals with those you love. I grew up surrounded by women who exhibit feminine elegance, savvy intellect, witty humor, and gritty toughness. That was and is the norm in our family, because that was who Ma was, and that was how she raised all her girls to be.

One of the things I loved most about Ma was how she cared for everyone in her life. And I do mean everyone. Yes, family and friends. But also waitresses, mailmen, shopkeepers, and neighborhood construction workers. It was as if she saw each person God brought into her life, whether for an hour, a month, or a decade as an opportunity to freely give of what she had freely received. I think she, better than most, actually looked for chances to give and serve, and through her I have learned much about the generosity and lavish love of the Lord. Whether a cold kiwi-strawberry Snapple, a warm bowl of beef vegetable soup, a 40% tip at a restaurant, or a thousand dollar donation for a church project, she was always giving, without restraint and with a deep pleasure in bringing others joy. One time she said, “You know Liz, it just seems like the more I give away, the more God gives me to give. It’s just so much fun!” And indeed, anyone who knew Ma knew how much fun she had surprising others with many kinds of gifts. I pray I can live with eyes to see opportunities to give generously and a heart that rejoices in it as hers did.

I consider it a great honor and privilege to be Pauline McGee’s granddaughter, and I am thankful for the great inspiration and model she has been to me and countless others. May this day and all our remembrance of her be a celebration of a truly beautiful woman and life well lived.

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