Gigi with her kids on her 90th birthday
Last night, as the world slept on, my family gathered to say goodbye to my wonderful, sweet Grandma.
Nina Ruth Kettler was one of those special ladies whose role in life seemed to be "Grandma." She was a loving wife, mother, friend, and Sunday school teacher, sure, but somehow it seems to me that God wove the tapestry of her life so she could be the perfect grandmother. And not just to her own grandchildren and great-grandchildren, but to all children who came in contact with her.
Gigi and her favorite little man
A visit to Grandma's house always consisted of three things - looking at whatever photos she had recently taken, baking fabulous cookies, and working the garden. I'd always laugh and tease Grandma about her photos, because she had this enduring habit of cutting off the tops of people's heads in them. She didn't care. She was gathering memories! There were photos of family and photos of church, and there were always photos of the neighborhood kids who would stop by to see Miss Nina and eat a cookie. Her life literally played out in pictures.
Speaking of cookies...oh man, those were good. Grandma loved cooking just about anything, but sweets held a special place in her heart and stomach. We shared a love of butterscotch, so every time I was at her house we baked oatmeal scotchies using her special recipe. Nowadays I use that same recipe when I bake cookies for friends and family and they're always "the best cookies ever!" The same goes for her cakes too. Any time we had a family function, you could tell which cake was hers by the tiny corner cut out. She's couldn't resist a taste test, so she would cut out an itty bitty corner and pretend no one would notice. I always found the missing-corner cake, because I knew it'd be a good'un.
Grandma's garden was a special place for her. It was full of the prettiest roses, the biggest peonies, the best tomatoes you'd ever seen. She lovingly tended her plants, and us grandkids spent plenty of time helping her. I didn't inherit her green thumb, but I had fun anyway - especially if she'd put me in charge of the water hose. I probably drowned a lot of her poor plants. ;)
Throughout the years, all of us stored up special memories of Grandma - from lazy mornings sitting on the front porch to getting up at 4 a.m. to go fishing (she was very serious about her fishing) to "peter pan collars with lace" (if you don't get that joke, I'm sorry...there's just no adequate way to explain it). We'll cherish those moments forever, and we'll miss the woman at the center of them. Our loving Gigi, as her great-grandkids call her, was ushered by angels into the presence of God at 3:07 a.m. Tuesday morning, and although we can never fill the gap she left, we'll always have the warmth of her love remaining in every cookie we bake, every seed we plant, every hug we share, and every photo album we fill.
Love you Gigi.