Today I went on a walk through Hannah Oja’s life. Hannah was Kris Gray’s grandmother and she passed away earlier this week. As a tribute to her life, we headed out to her property to remember who she was and to hear stories. It’s such an interesting journey to open the doors of a grandmother’s house and peruse their favorite things. It’s a full life reflected in every object and picture.
As we walked through her house, Kris told stories of her childhood spent in those rooms and out in the yard. She talked often about traditions that were unique to their family. She told stories of Hannah’s life and how she lived it to the full – even sky diving when she was 83 years old. She showed us the newspaper clipping of Hannah’s family escaping a viscious fire in Minnesota many, many years ago. 436 people in their town died that day, but Hannah’s family drove off with their belongings tied to the top of their Model T. That same Model T was sitting dusty in the garage that we toured and a picture of her grandpa leaning against that car lay on the dining room table. All the trinkets contained a story and all of the stories came back to family. Family…family…family…it was all that Hannah knew, loved, and poured herself into.
As Kris talked I literally saw Grandma Hannah’s legacy in her life. Kris’ love for her family, her quirky traditions, and her constant need to create memories…those traits are not her own, but stolen from a fiesty little lady that was the glue that kept her heritage at the forefront. It was a picture of hope. Hope that maybe, if we love enough, the best part of our character can be passed into other people and carried from generation to generation. Maybe this short life that we’ve been given is worth more than we can imagine – not when we spread ourselves out to the multitudes, but when we pour all we can into a handful of people that we believe in no matter what.
I took a lot with me from that house today…mostly a deep appreciation for the fact that Hannah birthed these values into Kris, but also the desire to do that for my own kids, grandkids, and great grandkids. Whether your family is given to you by blood or you “adopt” people that you consider family, I hope that you will take an opportunity to slow down your daily agenda and make a memory with the people that matter the most to you.
And Kris…she was so special…and you are so much like her. In her honor, may you spite Kylie by double piercing your ears for your grandkids. May you suck all of the “good” chocolate off of the peanuts. May your pancakes be too large for your plates. And may your heritage continue through you for many generations. Thank you for sharing Grandma Hannah with us!