My precious grandmother passed away one week ago today. I was very close to her, I loved her very much. Even so, I realize that it was her time. Life and death go hand in hand. Sad day for me, a very wonderful one for her. She is with Jesus now.
I went home last week for the funeral and my family asked me to share at the service. I was so pleased. My grandma was a brilliant and compassionate woman, this was my oppurtunity to share with her family and friends how much she meant to me.
This is my story.
I have been richly blessed to have Mary Ida McClintock as my grandmother. It's hard to stand in front of an audience of people who have as many incredible memories of Mary as I do, but I would like to take a moment to remember the incredible woman that we all knew.
The greatest lesson I learned from my grandmother was that life is lived to be celebrated. I have never met anyone who was so genuinely optimistic. She embraced life's gifts with enthusiasm and its hardships with grace. Mary's smile could light up any room, her laughter was fully contagious. She enjoyed every piece of her life. I can list the times on one hand, that I heard her complain. In fact I was with her one day about ten years ago when she had just come home from the doctor. She laid her purse and medicine down on the dining room table, she looked at me and said, "Well, the dr says I have congenital heart failure." I said, "well, what does that mean?" She replied, "It means my heart is too big and I could die of a heart attack at any time. Isn't that something?", and then she laughed. And how she said it was so funny, that I laughed too. This woman got some of the worst news possible, and she thought it was humorous. She lived her life as someone who was fulfilled, because she was.
Mary Ida McClintock believed that life was lived for people, not things. She was generous with time, money, and compassion. Most of her free time was spent volunteering, with her family or at her church. She was passionate about her friendships. It was always amazing to me how well she kept in contact with people. How many people have you known to have the same best friend for 60 years? She was also very proud of her family. Chances are, not many people knew Mary, without also knowing about Mary's children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She was proud that each member of her family was unique; had different goals, gifts, interests, and nothing pleased her more than seeing all of us together, peacefully enjoying one another. Although my grandmother loved people in general, there was one love that stood high above the rest. The late Tom McClintock, my beloved grandfather. They were married over 50 years and she truly cherished the time they shared. They were shining examples to me of a couple who learns to stay friends for life. She often told me, "The most important decision you make is who to marry. You must find someone who you can laugh with, someone who you can enjoy life with." I always loved listening to stories of adventures they faced together in life. The Depression, WWII, Grocery store fires, Cuban Missile Crisis, the list could go on. Perhaps my favorite, was a story she told me about, that took place right before Grandpa Tom was drafted in WWII. At that time, Men were being sent all over the world and they weren't allowed to tell their families where they were being sent to. Tom and Mary devised a system so that she would always know where he was stationed at. Each letter that Tom wrote had certain emphasis on alphabetical letters. Their cleverness gave Mary McClintock peace in a time that few were experiencing peace.
I recognize that at the heart of my grandmother, was a woman who had nearly perfected strength. She did not allow life's hardships to make her bitter, instead, she learned deep lessons from sad circumstances. I often think back to a picture I have of her. It was taken 13 years ago, 3 weeks after my grandfather, Tom McClintock passed away. On that particular year, the American Cancer Society had chosen to hold their annual Walk-a-thon in honor of Tom. Within a few weeks of the event his life was taken by cancer, so instead, the organization held their event in memory of him. That day, the Neosho High School Football Stadium was packed with people. The announcer shared about Tom's honorable life to a hushed crowd. At the end, He asked Mary to stand and at that moment, as a 14 year-old girl, I saw a woman who I had never quite seen in this light before. She was truly a woman of strength, dignity, and grace. She had just lost her husband days earlier, but she was beaming. She understood what an incredible impact their lives had made on a community of people. I, as a young girl, was fighting feelings of unfairness, anger, and sadness. It was at this moment that I learned from my grandmother, that life is about more than living and dying, it's about loving and serving. They did exactly what they set out to do, they made a lasting mark on each person who was lucky enough to be in their lives. I'm proud to be a part of Tom and Mary McClintock's lineage.