Saying goodbye

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This blog series we’re doing, 52 People You need to meet, was designed to introduce you to people living through the extraordinary circumstances that brain cancer introduces to life. Today, however, I want to introduce you to someone that you will never meet. You won’t meet her because she passed away this morning, and outside of my parents, was the largest single influence on my life.

Her name was Pauline Jones Elmore, and she was my maternal grandmother. “Miss Polly” to those who knew her about town, she was at once classy and supremely humble. Generous to a fault, she gave more of herself than anyone I’ve ever known – and I know some generous folks. She didn’t want an announcement in the paper, but she didn’t mention social media, so I’m going to write my own tribute to her here, knowing that any words will fail miserably in comparison to the woman.

When I was little, too young to remember, her first husband died. They had six wonderful kids, and my grandfather is remembered warmly by the family. When I was still small, she remarried the only man I remember as a grandfather, and he made such an impression that I named my daughter after him. My grandmother have us the gift of these wonderful men in our lives. Through her parental guidance, she also gave us the gifts of a close family with aunts, uncles, and cousins who are people I am proud to call my family.

Her open door – to family or strangers- taught me a lot about how to treat people in this world. Too often I worry that my house isn’t clean enough (hers was always spotless) or that i don’t have anything to offer (she always had food at the ready – and a candy bar or two if you knew where to look). I’m sure she worked hard to make her home welcoming, but it was mostly welcoming because of her. Over the years, various family members lived with her as get navigated a rough patch of life, and she was far more gracious about it than I think I would have been.

She loved music, and frequently surprised me with her choices. She wore colorful clothes in her prime, always with the perfect matching accessories. She liked to travel, but I think she likes being home more.

At her house, you could count on family dropping by, more food than any group of people should eat, and one or more spoiled dogs. When I was a kid, I remember her going to McDonald’s to get the dog a cheeseburger, and then almost as an aside, asking if I wanted one too.

I also remember one day, in the parking lot of that same McDonald’s, when she parked the car after going through the drive-thru for our food. I asked her if something was wrong, and she pointed to an old man walking down the street. He had on a long brown coat, and he looked pretty dirty. She said, “I’ve seen that man before, and I don’t think he has anywhere to stay. It’s gonna get cold tonight, and I’m gonna go give him some money so he can get a hotel room.” She took every bit of cash out of her wallet to give to him. That’s who my grandmother was in a nutshell.

She outlived two husbands, two of her children, and a few of her grandchildren. She was a pilar of strength showing that life goes on even after loss. She had faced death many times, and I know that she was ready for her own. That makes it slightly easier, but I don’t like the idea of a world without her.

Everything I am, I owe to her. (Yes, my parents did a great job, but without her, my mom wouldn’t even exist.) Even if I live as long as she did, I will never do half as much good for this world.

So today, on this day that she left earth to reunite with her loved ones in Heaven, I wanted to introduce you to my grandmother.

PS: The pic is of my two kids and “MawMaw”. David, I’m sure, was there waiting to give her a big hug when she reached Heaven’s gates. Austin will be here with me, carrying forward their legacy.

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