Thursday, May 13, 2010

A tribute to a true angel

Today was one of those hard days. The kind of day where you know that deep down you should be rejoicing because someone you know, someone you love so much it hurts has crossed over and successfully completed their "test" of life. Today we buried my sweet Grandma Burton. I wanted to write a post that help me and my family remember her better. I wanted my boys to be able to look back and KNOW what a truly amazing Angel on Earth she was/is. So this is a tribute to more guardian angel I have looking over our little family.

(My grandma's home town of Afton, (Star Valley) Wyoming

Where do I begin to even describe what an amazing, humble and truly beautiful woman she! I think it will be impossible, but I'm going to try anyway. My cute Grandma Burton (Rene' Walker Burton) has been a huge part of my life for as long as I can even remember. She's always been funny, quick witted and inspiring. She's the type of lady that I aspired to be like "when I grew up", even as a little girl. I remember that my Grandma made the best Sponge Cake on the face of the planet. I remember the day she and grandpa taught us to play a game called "Chicken Foot." They loved it and were quite good at it!

We all loved playing it with them! Grandma and Grandpa NEVER missed an opportunity to show us that they loved us unconditionally. To tell us that they loved us unconditionally. They came to every baptism, baby blessing, wedding, graduation, endowment and mission farewell in their good old trusty van. Never did they miss an opportunity to serve. They never missed a birthday despite the fact that they had sooo many to keep up with as our Burton family grew and grew.

Never did they judge. Constantly they turned the other cheek when they were burned over and over again by those happy to take advantage of their endless kindness. Never did they do something with the expectation of "Thank You." They just did it because that's the kind of people they were and are. Constantly serving others. They both served for years and years in numerous temples. They enjoyed being together and especially serving not only everyone around them, but each other as well. In just over a month they would have celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary.

Although her talented hands were scarred from years of arthritis, she never gave it a second thought as she meticulously made every grandchild, great grandchild the most BEAUTIFULLY handcrafted quilts, blankets, clothes and even ties. I am so happy that we have them to remember her by. They will continue to keep us warm throughout the years even though she's gone. I will always treasure them.

She had the voice of an angel. She could even hit that really high note in the Christmas Carol, "Oh Holy Night." She was known for her love of music in all degrees. I will forever picture her in my mind playing the organ in sacrament or playing the piano and singing beautifully. I remember how her chin moved up and down as her voice made that beautiful vibrato sound. I didn't know then, but would eventually give anything to do on my own. I wish with all my heart that I didn't laugh at her when I was little and didn't understand that people pay thousands and thousands of dollars to sound only a fraction of how angelic she did. She told me once that it really hurt her feelings and thinking that I caused her pain absolutely breaks my heart.

Grandma Burton was the most genuinely kind person (next to my Grandpa of course) that I think I have ever had the privilege of knowing.

Lanae and I made a little star with pictures all over it. No matter what...she loved homemade presents...even if they did look like the kids made it. She cherished each and every sentiment given.

I remember another time that I broke her newly finished clay pot she had made. I didn't want to tell her that it had been me that broke it, but when I saw how upset it made her told her the truth. She didn't yell. She didn't punish me. She simply sat me down and talked to me. I wonder how I would have handled it if it was my freshly made pot and Corbin broke it. Would I have yelled and put him in time out and made him feel just awful? I'm thinking that unfortunately I just might have.

Grandma and Grandpa Burton have always had the most amazing stories regarding promptings they've had over the years. One such time was a number of years back when they lived in Albany, LA. They lived on the "farm" as we all referred to it as. They lived down a long gravel road and had tons of land that even included a swamp...(it's LA...what did you expect?!!). One night when my grandma was coming home from a music lesson she got a strong impression NOT to go into her home. My grandpa was away on business and she was home alone. As she drove down the bumpy gravel road the impression came a 2nd time. She told herself that she felt this way since she would be alone that night and there was really nothing to fear. She felt that she was merely working herself up. As she pulled up to the house the impression came again, only stronger. She told herself again that there was NOTHING to fear. She opened her car door and put one foot on the gravel driveway and the impression came back so strongly that she decided to listen and put her foot back in the car and drove away. She drove around for about an hour and then decided to return home. As she did a feeling of peace came over her and she felt safe to enter her home. She said that she felt as if someone had been there and thus put a chair up against the doors...just in case. She slept well that night. The next morning as she was getting the mail she ran into her neighbor who said...."Did you hear about that rapist who had escaped? They caught him about a mile up the road in the swamp." Chills came over her (and me as she told me that story) and she KNEW that the Lord had blessed her. Another time as she was driving in their home town of Columbus, OH she was driving a pick up truck. Upon stopping at a red light she felt strongly impressed to lock her car doors. She didn't hesitate and did as she was prompted. As she leaned over to lock the passenger side door a very rugged scary man was at the door trying to get in. Scary huh?! Once while she lived on the previously mentioned farm the cows got out of the pasture. She went out to call them back. As she was walking she felt prompted NOT to put her foot down. The heel of her foot was down and her toes were up, ready to finish her step. She look down and saw a great big cottonmouth snake (POISONOUS) with it's jaws gaping wide.

Had she had finished that step, it would have been directly into the mouth of that poisonous snake. She took a few steps back and told the snake to "shew" and luckily it did. Another instance particularly holds a special place in my heart. One morning as she was getting herself and her 6 or 7 kids ready. She noticed that her youngest daughter Becky was nowhere to be found. She looked and looked. (Much like the afternoon I did for my sweet Jack). Then she looked out her window and saw Becky, face down in a puddle of water. She ran to her. She found her, not breathing, lips blue. A memory I am sure will never stop haunting me. She told me that she knew Becky was gone. She said a prayer, did CPR and seconds later Becky came to. Becky lived. Her nightmare was only seconds long and didn't have any lasting consequences. Becky was not called home and allowed to live here on Earth. How blessed I felt as she told me this story so many years ago. I wish our outcome would have been the same, but know deep down that the Lord needed Jack more than we must have. One other time when she was only a mother to 2 little boys (my uncle Kent and dad) she had another horrifying experience. Her boys were being boys and wandered off. She looked and looked for them and couldn't find them anywhere. The lived a short distance from a train track. As she was frantically searching for her two little boys she heard the train whistle. "Toooooooooot... Tooooooooooot...Toot Toot". That is the sound the train engineer makes when there is something on the tracks. And she KNEW where they were. No mother could have run faster...I know...I know all too well the speed at which she must have run. I'm sure she had angels helping her along. She knew that she'd never make it in time...what a horrible feeling that must have been. As she got closer she saw a man (maybe he was an angel) grab both of her boys who were playing on the tracks literally seconds before the train crossed. She would have been too late if it weren't for this wonderful man acting on the prompting he must have been given. She scooped up both of her boys and held them close as she sobbed knowing that the Lord had greater purposes for both of them. Little did she know that the youngest of those little boys (my dad) would go on to make her insane with his obsession for snakes...both poisonous and non-poisonous. She had to make her way the principal's office a bit more than most mom's because of it! And still she adored him! But let's be honest here...if you have met my dad you can understand why she forgave him so often. He's quite the charmer of people as well as snakes! :)

She loves her family equally...every single person no matter who good or bad. Even if they were technically no longer part of our family, it never stopped her or Grandpa from sending them cards for every occasion. Once they were in...they were STUCK there!

My mom used to say that I looked alot like my Aunt Jo and my grandma (both pictured above). I like to think that I got a few things from her. Her nose...which I'm happy to an heir to! :) Her good "supply" for a chubby baby! :) I like to think I'm kind of funny...sometimes...and I think I get it from my dad who got it from my Grandma. I'll forever picture her with curlers in her hair, blue eye shadow, rouge, and the smell of aqua net hair spray.

Throughout my grandparent's marriage I never saw them quarrel. Never saw them belittle one another. Never was there any unnecessary bickering. But there was the occasional playful banter. Grandma always had trouble with her sinuses. After several surgeries left her without her sense of smell and some of the fat from her stomach used for a skin graph on her forehead, they both found humor in the situation. My grandpa told me that he liked to call her "fat head". The day he told me that, grandma had woken up that morning with a crick in her neck. After the "fat head" story he told me that she was from the "stiff-necked" generation (Book of Mormon). I can still picture her cute face as he related these stories to me. Her big beautiful brown eyes wide and her cute little lips pouting as she said..."You see how mean he is....!" Then they'd both giggle. Oh how I'll miss that giggle.

Grandma was always so full of life and fun witted pranks. They lived in Blackfoot, ID and what's ID famous for??!! POTATOES! One Monday morning my grandma decided to use up the leftover baked potatoes from Sunday's dinner for breakfast. She was taking the peelings off the potatoes onto a dirty plate she brought in from outside. The rain had caused some of the dirt from the plant to reside on the bottom of the plate and she had planned to wash it. My grandpa noticed that she was taking the peelings off and apparently made a big enough deal about not wanting to waste them. Without a thought or even a word, my grandma simple scraped up the peelings from the dirty plate keep in mind, straight into the pan she was planning to cook with the newly peeled leftover potatoes....DIRT and ALL! Then she served it to him....and sat down to enjoy his reaction as he figured out what she had done. After he had finished eating and picking out the GRIT from the back of his teeth. He looked at her and said..."Rene', I can't understand it...I washed those potatoes as clean as I thought I could get them....and I'm STILL finding bits of dirt in my teeth!" With that she smiled that cute little devious smile and showed him just what she had done. As they shared this story with grandpa said..."You SEE...she's trying to kill me!!!" They we all had a good laugh.

My grandparents have always been the type of couple I've always dreamed of becoming. They have always been kind and thoughtful to one another. Their marriage was blessed and their home was a home of love and much laughter. The kindness and consideration they constantly showed one another could only be compared to President Hinkley and his loving companion Marjorie. I think I was more sad when she died, knowing hard it would be for President Hinkley. That is how I feel about my Grandpa having to continue on this earthly journey without her hand to hold. How grateful I am for the knowledge and sweet peace the gospel brings into our family. I know that he'll be with her again. I know that she's close. I know that she's with my sweet Jack and that together they are anxiously awaiting our family's homecoming. I like to think that Jack was among the slew of angels there to take her back home.

They both loved fruit and loved to smile and laugh even more. There's a smile...a couple smiles I can't wait to see.

Until then, it's hard. I miss both of them more than words will ever fully express. My heart is broken.