Today was a memorial for my 93 year old neighbor Grace who embodied her name in so many ways. The service at Mission Santa Clara was a tribute to a woman who spent much of her life giving of herself.
She was like another grandma to my kids and I. She knew all the children in our little court and remembered their birthdays with little cards with checks and a sweet note. On Halloween each neighborhood child got a brand new $2 bill she ordered from the mint! I loved to chat with her when I caught her running out to lunches or meetings for her beloved Catala Club, Art Docents, or Red Hat Society or visiting her dear sister. We liked to deliver her little bouquets from our yard and Christmas cookies and she sent us the kindest note throughout the year.
What amazed me about Grace like others of her generation, was her positive outlook and gracious way with people. Ladies of her times made an effort to show up, give of their time, make others feel good, and always had a kind word, despite personal struggles and adversity. They put their families and friends before themselves and worked tirelessly to do for others less fortunate. I am inspired by Grace who lived with many illnesses in her later years, yet soldiered on never missing a commitment and nary a complaint. When I think of people I admire most it's these women who lived through wars, depressions, illnesses, and family losses, yet always made the best of things.
Women today could learn a lot from these past generations who really made this world a lovelier place with their lives. Because they were children of the depression, they never took a thing for granted nor failed to appreciate anything. If you have the good fortune to have a grandma or an elderly neighbor, treasure them. Spending time each week with my 98 year old grandma has made me appreciate that and care less about trivial crud. It's helped me realize it's the connections we make with others in life mean everything. Grace knew that so well. She touched everyone who knew her and you never walked away without a smile or a little chuckle.
Grace's son read this poem and it was fitting for our sweet Grace.
To laugh often and much;
to win the respect of the intelligent people
and the affection of children;
to earn the appreciation of honest critics
and endure the betrayal of false friends;
to appreciate beauty;
to find the best in others;
to leave the world a bit better
whether by a healthy child, a garden patch,
or a redeemed social condition;
to know that one life has breathed easier
because you lived here.
This is to have succeeded.
Grace really did leave the world a better place. She inspires me to try harder to do the same in some little way each day. I feel so lucky to have known her.
Grace photos courtesy of Bill Sautter Family.