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Passion & Purpose

January 13, 2011

My grandma Alice hugging her three grandchildren - circa 1990 (and yes, I have bangs)

I’ve been thinking of my grandma Alice lately. Not just during this past week, but this past year while I’ve been “jobless” (by choice).

She passed away a little over four years ago and I definitely miss her. It’s sad to admit it, but I appreciate her more now than I did when she was alive. Yeah, yeah, I know the phrase, “you don’t appreciate something/someone until its/they’re gone.” However, it’s more than that. I think it’s because I now understand who she was.

A few things about Mrs. Alice Nellie Rude Erickson:
* She loved her family.
* She loved God even more.
* She saved everything (No joke – when my mom, sister and I were moving her things from her home, I opened an egg carton that was inside her garage and inside each egg holder was a DD battery. It was how she stored them until she recycled them. I got a good kick out of my discovery.)
* On the note of recycling – she recycled everything to include her plastic bags and the twisty ties off the bread bag.
* She was using organic hair products and toiletries and also eating organic and whole foods before it was “popular” or at least before it began to gain popularity. When I would go grocery shopping for her she always specified that she wanted an organic Hass avacado – I don’t think I made sure they were organic. (Sorry, Grandma.)
* She was 5’7 originally but suffered from osteoporosis and when she passed away she couldn’t have been taller than 5’0. I know it bothered her that she had a “hump” on her back, but she always dressed classy and would alter all of her own clothing. In fact, I received her sewing machine when she passed and this past year I dusted it off and hauled out her boxes of sewing odds and ends. I got choked up when I saw all of the pins and thread and “projects” that she had been working on.
* She loved to read and recorded shows on tv that caught her interest. One day she told me that she looked at herself as a “resource” for others. She said she enjoyed being able to give people books, tapes, recordings, etc. (Don’t be fooled, though, she wanted them back!)
* When she got excited she would rub her palms together quickly and then clap her hands loudly and exclaim “Woooooopie”. It was cute.
* She had an agenda for everything. In fact, I found it quite annoying while I was growing up. Instead of being able to go over to house to play, I would walk in and on her kitchen table would be a few piles of books and articles of things she wanted to go over with me. I didn’t like it at the time, but now I understand that she had so much passion welled up inside her that she couldn’t contain herself. In many ways, I can relate to her passion – just not always agreeing with how she “expressed” it.

So, here I sit in my office thinking of her. She seems to be everywhere. For instance, I am eating some leftovers that were heated up in one of her old retro dishes that I received when going through her belongings. And a few days ago, as I was sitting at my dining room table eating breakfast perusing the bookcases that surround our dining room one title stuck out, Good to Great by Jim Collins. My grandma gave me that book over six years ago when I began my career with “Big T”. I chuckled when I saw the book because I had never read it – perhaps one day I will.

Yay for old Corning Ware!

But beyond recognizing things that she gave me or were once hers, I find myself becoming more like her. I believe that if she were here today I would be able to sit down and talk to her about my return to Ethiopia and she would understand my passion. A passion that burns within. A “cause” that I believe in that I don’t want to be quiet about. I’m sure she would smile because she would know that this passion comes from the same God who had supplied her with her own passions. I know she would be thrilled to see me using her old sewing machine (that weighs about 100 lbs) and becoming more interested in creating things with my own two hands.

I didn’t understand who she was until now. She loved life because she first loved God. I can’t begin to thank her enough for all her prayers for me and (even though I didn’t understand her at the time) for just being herself. She showed me through actions and words how to live this life – with passion and purpose.

Thank you, dear Grandma Alice. I go to Ethiopia, in part, because of you.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Mary Erickson permalink
    January 13, 2011 12:45 pm

    This is so true, I am happy that you have a new appreciation for your Grandma Alice Jen. I know she would love to sit and listen to your passion for the people of Ethiopia!
    Love you,

  2. Gilbert J. Rieder permalink
    January 21, 2011 7:02 am

    Just very ELEQUENT, WELL “SAID” & SUSCINCTLY STATED….Jen, w/consideration, grace & much Love.
    Very good to boot!

    Good writing, Jen. (I’m a bit of a connoisseur of the written & spoken word.

    Fondly; Your, ‘whatever’ level of relative,
    Gil Rieder

    p.s. call me sometime….SOON !!!!!

  3. Lupe Marsden permalink
    January 23, 2011 12:37 am

    Jen, no wonder we have connected…I saved the same corning ware from my dad! I have 5 pieces that I treasure and use all the time! And guess what else, I have his old sewing machine too! 😉
    I loved reading about your grandma Alice. It gave me tingles about her putting books out for you, I try to sit down every day with Thomas to do story time and I know right now it’s a little early but I try to do it often enough so that when he’s older he’ll remember that special time we shared.
    Thanks for sharing, so heartwarming but I see your humor in it too! What a special lady.
    God is so amazing! He has given us both some very special people.

    Love you girl!

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