Capturing a well-lived earthly existence is difficult to do in a mere 500 words.
Small in stature, yet formidable in spirit, Grandma June was every bit a country gal, farmer’s wife, mother, sister, friend and to so, so many – nurse. My six degrees of separation with so many people is Grandma June the nurse. She spent 42 years at KSB Hospital caring, teaching and learning.
Grandma was a worker. She never shied away from a task however big or small. Her favorite Christmas gift was a chain-saw. Yes, Grandma did it all.
She baked and cooked not to be fancy, but to fill her family’s stomachs and hearts. We spent so many evenings gathered around that dining room table, first eating ham, potatoes, corn, salads, dinner rolls – oh my, those rolls – and then pie, always chocolate pie and then something else. A cake, another pie, brownies. We’d clear the dishes, but no one would vacate the table. There we’d stay in the waning light of day talking, laughing, debating, sharing. We Dallams are a small family, but every bit a strong one.
Grandma was fond of telling us that our family started with a wink. A wink from a handsome young man who caught Grandma’s eye in study hall. She loved Grandpa with every cell, every ounce of her being.
They built and lived such a full life. Dancing was their chosen pastime. The only thing that would move us from the dinner table was a dance to the tune of Glenn Miller on the kitchen’s yellowed linoleum.
I remember Grandma’s house always being comfortable like a cozy blanket, yet it was unusually open for an old farmhouse. Diet Pepsi always on the counter, sugar cookies in the freezer and jelly beans – black ones – in a glass jar on the refrigerator. If we grandkids were good, we’d get jelly beans on our way out the door. We were always good.
When Grandpa Ray died suddenly that October day, Grandma died with him. Not just a piece of her, all of her. She mourned him every second and prayed for the day she could dance with him again.
Tonight, pictures of her life are strewn across my parents’ massive harvest table, arrangements are being finalized, decisions about casket sprays and great-grandkids’ tokens discussed. And memories are being shared . . . so, so many memories.
Grandma June wouldn’t care for the fuss of this. She never demanded much. An open window to get some air, an ear to listen to a well-told story, something sweet she was probably not supposed to eat, and someone to hug. Her hugs were suffocating at times.
I kinda wish I could have just one more, swaying to the chords of a Moonlight Serenade.