From the time I was very young, I knew I was beautiful and I knew I was smart. I knew this because Grandma told me every chance she had. I grew up confident. “Hey there you beautiful girl!” She would exclaim as I walked in the door as a little girl, an awkward adolescent, and as a grown woman. Always in awe of how clever she felt I was, I heard nothing but praise from her. I know that I was not the sole recipient of these proclamations, I shared them with my sisters, my cousins, my parents, my aunts, with anyone and everyone that Grandma loved. And she loved so many, she made friends so quickly. Her sweet uplifting remarks were always genuine though, no matter how often or for whom they were made. Grandma saw the beauty in people and she rejoiced in it.
She was hardworking farm girl who was grateful for and generous with what she had. She and Grandpa were constantly feeding people, always baking and keeping the pantry well stocked, always caring for and nourishing others in body and soul. Grandma had the quickest wit, pulling jokes out of nowhere. She was a wonderful storyteller and shared her history with us. She loved a game of cards, loved the banter, loved to table talk, loved to remind us that if you’re not going to have any fun you might as well stay home, and heck, most of the time that’s pretty fun too. She was always right about that, because she knew the secret—you make your own fun. You revel in every moment this life gives you.
As my daughter begins her life, we say a heart breaking good-bye to her Great-Grandma Raether, inspired by her, a woman who lived life better than anyone I know. Her days filled with joy, laughter, friendship and generosity. She embodied love and happiness. There is so much she has taught me that I will share with my beautiful girl Bea. She has given us this greatest gift, to see life for all the beauty it holds, to find that beauty in others, and to give it back to them.
With the biggest smile she would toast us “Here’s hoping you live forever, and I never die.” Your vibrant spirit will live on forever—we will share that special part of us that is you with everyone we meet.