I want to take a moment to write a little bit about the woman in this picture.
This is Mary Lou Miller and she is my husband's grandmother. We lost her this week, much sooner than any of us expected.
When I met Mary Lou 14+ years ago, as a young college student dating her grandson, one word came to my mind. Fierce. It is not an elegant enough word to describe her and there are probably no words in any language that truly are, but when I met her, I thought "That is one fierce lady!"
She loved fiercely. She was like a love gladiator; in that, once she loved you, she was going to love you until your last breath.
This is not an exaggeration, she actually did love people until their last breath. She cared for her brother-in-law, Hank; her father, Earl; and her husband, Richard until they died. And I don't just mean that she sat by their bedside. I mean she got her hands dirty: got up repeatedly during the night, cleaned them up, changed linens, gave medications, monitored them, lifted and made them comfortable, called doctors, took them to appointments and waited for them while they were in surgeries or treatments, and was never afraid to question doctors, nurses, or other staff when she thought that those that she loved were not getting exactly what they needed. Oh, and she did sit by their bedside also. And make no mistake, she would have done all of that for anyone that she loved.
She was fiercely honest. Mary Lou told it how it was. She was a no holds barred cage fighter of honesty.
She was not afraid to tell you when you had made a bad choice or a mistake (I'm talking to you Time Warner Cable, Cincinnati Reds, and Cincinnati Bengals) She was not one to "nicey nice" a situation. She knew when you needed to hear the truth, no matter how painful that truth might be. She understood that we grow from our mistakes, so it is best to recognize them, so that we could become better, more responsible people. AND she was also always the first one in line to cheer, hug, and congratulate you on your successes. And she usually had a meal and/or snacks to celebrate also...which was always a bonus!
Mary Lou was fierce about life in general. She was always busy doing something; whether it was caring for someone, golfing, watching the game, visiting family and friends, cooking, cleaning, running errands, or travelling to the lake or Florida, she always had something going on. Some people would call this being a "busy body," but I disagree. Mary Lou was not a time waster. She squeezed life out of every minute that she could. As her health declined, you could tell that resting was not really "her thing". You could see the desire to be productive in her eyes and you wished you could give it to her.
I see her fierce love in my husband every day. First of all, he loves me (weirdness and all) and sometimes I can be very hard to love. He is the first one at my side when I need help, am sad, or hurt, and I have no doubt that he will love me until my last breath.
Now, I could have said that once she loved you, she was going to love you until your last breath...or hers; but I didn't. I didn't because, in loving all of us so fiercely, she taught us to love the same way. In this way her love supersedes her passing - we all carry her fierceness with us.
Her daughters will look in the mirror everyday and see her reflected back in their own strength, love, and passion for life. I see her in my own daughter and my nieces, because Abby, Lacie, and Lily are feisty, active, loving, but no nonsense kind of girls, just like Mary Lou.
She will be missed, but she is never gone. Love you Gigi!