This morning at 2:30am my great grandmother Alice Lockhert passed away at 100 years old. Despite her age, she lived in her own home until the final few days of her life. She loved oil painting, gardening, her family and since she never owned a computer, the highlight of her day was often when the mailman stopped by and delivered her letters and the stacks of catalogs that she liked to order.
It was a sort of ongoing joke in my family about how many stamps she went through per month. She loved to send money to any and every organization that sent her postcards asking for donations. Even to the society that takes care of orphan cats. Is that even a real organization? I dont’ know, but I think she sent them money anyway… However, the comedic part of her generosity was that in reality it was my grandparent’s money that she was so-generously giving away. So they weren’t always too keen on her giving habits, even though I’m sure they felt bad for all the orphaned kittens around the world too.
I have a lot of special memories of my great grandma Alice. Most of which are wrapped up in humor considering that I only knew her during her late 80’s and beyond; A time when people tend to get a little “funny.”
So in honor of great grandma Alice, I’ll share a few of my favorite memories with you:
She didn’t hear well, so if I wanted to tell her something I had to yell it to her. That’s something I never got comfortable doing.
She also didn’t speak very clearly because of her old, worn-out vocal chords so I have many memories of nodding and smiling when I had no idea what she was saying. A good life-skill and ability that has helped me as I pursue a career in Public Relations!
She made cookies every year for Christmas that were too rock solid to eat.
One time I watched Wheel of Fortune with her at the highest volume setting on the TV.
For a reason I will probably never know, she had a white porceline toilet in her backyard that she had peculiarly planted flowers in. I guess that’s old school DIY for ya!
She had gorgeous ice-blue colored eyes and whenever she kissed me goodbye her bright lipstick stuck to my cheeks.
Every single year she would mix up my birthday with my sisters. So I always got a birthday card in March and Devan always got mine in September.
Whenever I visited I would ask to see her oil paintings that hung in a spare bedroom in her house. She didn’t paint very much anymore during the time I knew her, but I always liked to look at them even if they always were the same paintings.
One time I drove her home after a Thanksgiving dinner and she spent the ride across town telling me about how she personally never learned to drive and what a privelage it was that I had that opportunity.
And probably my favorite collection of memories of my great grandma Alice is our shared love for writing. Because of the difficulty I had hearing her and speaking to her, we developed a special friendship through written letters and the sharing of our writing. Although her handwriting was sometimes just as hard to interpret as her speech, her letters were fun to read because they became cases of deciphering written code. Sometimes a simple card took me thirty minutes to figure out, but it was always well worth it.
Most times she wrote about her gardening and the weather, but other times she shared with me about how she met her husband and how she developed a relationship with the Lord. Writing back and forth about Jesus became something that occured often and she would always encourage me to stay strong in my faith.
She wrote poems that displayed her spunk, love of life and sometimes her stubbornness. Apparently after being in a car accident and experiencing whiplash she was given pain medication for many years. Her poetry and use of sarcasm displayed her feelings of dislike towards the pills and how they made her feel. I’m thankful to my aunt Susan who made copies of her writings and put them together in a binder that I was given at her 100th birthday party earlier in February; something I will always cherish.
And in return I would write her back telling her about my big move to California, informing her that I had met the man I would marry and letting her know about how my job was going. When I wrote a story or a poem that I was particularly proud of I would make sure to print it out and mail it to her also.
I like to think that my love for writing was at least in part influenced by her. Maybe she passed along a creative gene that I was blessed enough to inherit.
Whatever the case, I carry happy, loving memories of Alice. She was a strong woman of faith and I hope to carry on the family tradition.