There is a sticker on her bedroom door that reads El Dormitorio (bedroom in Spanish.) Beyond that door I could hear breathing some of her last breaths, but the sticker still made me smile. It reminded me how wonderful the woman was on the other side… How strong she was and how much she lived her life. At 80 some odd years old she started taking community college courses to learn Spanish… and a few months afterward set out on a month long adventure across the world to Spain, with a bag only big enough for me to fit enough pairs of shoes for a weekend trip.
My grandmother left this world surrounded by people who loved her. We were at her bedside, loving her and thanking her for everything she gave us. Her bedroom dresser is covered with 80+ years of memories, pictures of children and grandchildren, and many moments from the beautiful story that was her life.
She was the kind of person whom you could recognize her wisdom without the necessity for big words or complex theories… you could feel it in her presence… the presence of a woman who was not physically big, but larger than life.
She was sharp. A Stanford graduate and an activist who was part of changing the world for the better… I hope she was proud of me for the good things I’ve been doing with my life. I respected her not only for her intelligence or sound morals… but also because she could hit you with a watermelon seed from a good 20 feet away… and on April Fools Day you had better be on your toes around her.
My grandmother was a lady; she respected others and respected herself. I can remember the one time I swore in front of her as a child… I could feel her disappointment without her even having to say a word… that was the last time I did that.
She was a strong woman… on our annual family camping trips when I was worried about what little creepy crawler might have found its way into my shoes at night… my grandmother slept outside under the stars…
Her home, lovingly called The Hamar hotel… never quite had enough guest rooms for all the people who stayed along the way… but she had more than enough room in her heart to love every person that came through.
I appreciate your thoughts and prayers, but I’m not writing this down for my benefit alone. I share this with whoever reads it, because:
To the women of the world who never got a chance to meet her, you missed the opportunity to meet a great woman… a woman who enjoyed life, loved her friends and family and was always ready for life’s adventures. She is my reminder to all of you, that you are strong. You are beautiful. And live life’s adventure to the fullest.
I was able to let her know just before she left that I loved her. We had time to say our last words… Life does not always provide such a giving time schedule. Life is a fragile thing and takes too many people before their time… Don’t wait until tomorrow to say the things you want to say, to the people that matter most to you… I know that is a cliché and has been said who knows how many times… but having lived in disaster zones for 10 months of the last 2 years and having spent the last few hours with my grandmother as she passed… I feel so lucky to have been able to tell her how much she meant to me… and so very sorry for the thousands upon thousands of people who never had the chance to say it to the ones they cared about.
Jean S. Hamar
August 17, 1919 - November 13, 2006