Happy Birthday Grandma!

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I’m gonna get a little personal for a second. This isn’t so much a DIY project, recipe, or one of my usual posts as it is a tribute. For those of you who don’t know me personally, we lost my mother in law to lung cancer in August. Somedays I’m not so sure it feels quite real yet so writing this for the world to see is going to be somewhat difficult for me. If you didn’t have the pleasure of knowing Lyndee, I can tell you that she was most definitely a memorable woman. She was tall and slender and as goofy as can be. She loved being silly and making people laugh. Her laughter itself was contagious, if I close my eyes and concentrate, I can almost hear it. When she was first diagnosed with lung cancer, we were all heartbroken and confused. She hadn’t smoked a day in her life, how could she have lung cancer? Shows our complete lack of awareness! The truth is, lung cancer can be caused by a whole plethora of reasons and there really isn’t a way to know for sure what caused it in her case. We do know her parents were smokers and smoked around her and in their home and vehicles throughout her childhood and that exposure to secondhand smoke may or may not have been a factor. Whatever the cause, it’s a terrible disease and watching her fight was both inspiring and heartbreaking. She was so strong through the whole thing. When she was first diagnosed, I remember all of us being very weepy but we never saw her cry. One night, I asked her, “how on earth are you so calm? I would be a blubbery mess in your shoes.” I’ll never forget her reply. She told me she had prayed about it and that God had filled her with peace. She was going to fight but she wasn’t afraid to die, she was ready when the time would come. I could go on and on but how on earth do you sum up an entire life in a single blog post. I’ll say this: She loved a lot, was loved by many, and spread joy wherever she went even to perfect strangers!

The holidays were difficult without her. Surreal almost. It was strange not seeing her across the table at Thanksgiving and strange not shopping for a Christmas present for her like usual. So, when her birthday rolled around a few days after Christmas, the kids and I couldn’t help but want to do something to celebrate her life. Unfortunately, you can’t send a cake and gifts to heaven so we had to come up with something else. Because she loved making other people smile, we decided our gift to her should be a week full of making other people smile! I typed up a little note that said:

“Our Grandma is celebrating her birthday in heaven this year. What a party that must be! She was a silly Grandma who was always doing nice things for others. Since we can’t celebrate with her this year, we are doing nice things for others as our gift to her. Please accept this random act of kindness in honor of our Grandma. Add to the party by playing it forward.”

I attached a goofy photo of her sporting a multicolored afro wig we bought her as a joke when she lost her hair to chemo and cut it into strips. We then spent the week distributing them along with different small acts of kindness in our community.

We taped quarters to vending and gumball machines everywhere we went.
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We taped microwaveable popcorn packages to redbox machines around town.
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We scattered $1 bills around the toy section of Dollar Tree for some kids to find and get themselves a little treat.
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We bought coffee for the car behind us at Starbucks and asked the cashier to hand them our note.
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We bought individual laundry detergent packs at Target and left them on washing machines at a local laundromat with some quarters.
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We also mailed crisp $1 bills to 5 random people from the phone book with our note, donated books to our pediatrician’s office (we noticed theirs were a little ragged), and left a hefty tip for our server at dinner.

We hope Grandma liked her gift and that we brought some smiles to the faces of the strangers who found the goodies. Who couldn’t smile after seeing that picture!

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You can view the slideshow I created for her services here:

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