On the morning that Momma went home to Heavenly Father, the five children and Daddy sat in the front room, searching through photos. Grace, the eldest, gazed at the photo of the family all dressed in white. She remembered how happy they had been when their prayers had been answered and Daddy joined the church. Grace had been especially happy, because Daddy had been able to baptize and confirm her. Grace pictured her family standing together in front of one the two big mirrors facing opposite walls in the sealing room.
“What do you see?” Momma had asked the children.
“I can see forever,” Grace answered in awe.
“That’s how long we’re going to be a family,” Momma promised.
The memory brought comfort and a new trickle of tears down her cheeks. Grace caressed the picture, before handing it to Deanne.
“Oh, good. You found it,” Deanne said. “That’s my favorite picture. The day we were sealed together for time and all eternity!” she exclaimed “I think we should display our temple picture next to the porcelain temple that Momma and Daddy had on their 50th wedding anniversary cake.”
“Momma would love that,” Suzanne said. “And let’s display the lastest family picture alongside the quote Momma framed, ‘Let there be no empty chairs in our Heavenly home,’” She added.
Daddy held up the big family picture. “It’s hard to believe our little eternal family grew from seven to seventy-seven,” he said, before being overcome with emotion.
As the day went on, Grandma and Grandpa’s house filled to the rim with family members–all coming together to find comfort, offer love and support and to share special memories of Grandma.
“One of my sweetest memories, after she started to lose her memory, was going to the temple with Momma and Daddy. I was so worried she would get lost. I held her hand and helped her throughout the ceremony,” Deanne shared. “It reminded me of the first time I went to the temple, but the roles were reversed. In the Celestial Room, the three of us sat quietly together, basking in the wonderful spirit. Momma didn’t remember how to find her way home anymore, or even how to cook and sew, but she still knew the importance of the temple.”
“I remember, before Grandma got sick, she would say ‘There’s my Willem,’ every time I came to visit,” eight-year old Willem said as he cuddled up next to Grandpa on the couch. “Did you know I was her favorite?” he whispered to Grandpa.
Grandpa smiled and nodded his head. After Willem went to play with his cousins, three-year-old Jordyn curled up in Grandpa’s lap. “Gwama, was my favwite!” she exclaimed, “And I was her favwite too! Wasn’t I, Gwampa?” Grandpa kissed her on the forehead. “Yes, you were, Princess.”
Next came five-year-old Paige who put her arms around Grandpa’s neck. After declaring that she had been Grandma’s favorite, she told Grandpa that it was okay to be sad, “but we need to be happy too,” she said, “because Grandma’s not gone very far. She’s just in heaven and she’s waiting there for all of us.”
Tears streamed down Grandpa’s cheeks. “That’s right Paige,” he whispered, “and even though I’ll miss her every single day until then, I’m happy she isn’t sick anymore and has her memories back.”
One by one that day, each great-grandchild hugged Grandpa tightly. Each one knew that they were Grandma’s favorite, and Grandpa knew that each one was right.
by Margie Nauta Lee