Posted by: Calmseas (Mike) | December 13, 2011

Keeper Of Dreams

My Grandma Keur was an amazingly special person, and not only to me, but to everyone fortunate enough to know her.  Grandma passed away last month after a rich life that spanned 98 years, a time period stretching from Woodrow Wilson to Wikipedia, from barnstorming to break-dancing, from the Model T to missions to Mars and beyond!  Just think, in 1913, the year of her birth, it was a big deal to cross the English Channel by airplane; in 2011, the Voyager 1 spacecraft (launched in 1977) is over 9 billion miles from earth, poised to enter interstellar space sometime in the next 10 years.  Grandma’s life witnessed the earliest of man’s aviation efforts, the grand exploration of deep space, and everything in between!

And unless we should forget just how long ago 1913 was, here are a few things to remind us and to help put the remarkable life and longevity of my grandmother into perspective:

  1. The federal income tax went into effect on March 1, 1913, and the IRS began collecting taxes on March 8, the day after Grandma was born.  And they’ve been at it ever since.
  2. The 39th running of the Kentucky Derby took place; 2011’s Derby was the 137th.
  3. Civil war veterans from both sides held the largest ever reunion in 1913 at Gettysburg.  The Emancipation Proclamation was signed just 50 years before. There were lots of people still around who remembered the Civil War and Lincoln as president.
  4. Stainless steel, a common construction material in so many products today, was invented in 1913.
  5. The first parachute jump from an aircraft took place.
  6. The Lincoln Highway opened as the first paved coast-to-coast highway.  It stretched from New York to San Francisco.
  7. The Panama Canal opened.
  8. The first drive-up gasoline station opened in Pittsburgh.
  9. Charlie Chaplin began his film career.
  10. And what about 1913 prices?  How does 32 cents for a gallon of milk sound? Or 6 cents for a loaf of bread, 30 cents for a dozen eggs, 12 cents for a gallon of gas, $490.00 for a brand new car, or $3,395.00 for a house?  Then again, you would buy all of these things on an annual income of around $750.00.

Yes, 1913 was a very long time ago.  Grandma lived all of her 98 years to the fullest, and she remembered it all vividly, right up until the last.

Grandma Keur was a part of my life at every stage, from my earliest memories right up until last month just short of my 55th birthday.  When I was a child, my Grandma would often look after me and the other grand-kids, providing rich experiences that we took for granted then, but that we cherish as wonderful memories today.

I remember spending much time in Grandma’s kitchen when she and Grandpa lived in the little white house on Maple Street in Fruitport, Michigan.  That kitchen table served as a venue for everything from simple snacks to extravagant holiday meals.  I especially remember the windmill cookies and milk that Grandma would put out for the kids and for Grandpa Keur, who loved his windmill cookies.

I remember rattling around in Grandma’s attic bedroom.  What a wonderful place to explore with its low, angled ceilings and many nooks and crannies.  And what was the most amazing thing about this place?  Books.  And not just a few books, but lots and lots of books.  Little low-to-the-floor cabinets lined both sides of this attic bedroom.  And the cabinets were full of books, every type imaginable.  I loved to look at all of the different titles and subjects of the many books.  She perhaps had as many books as a small community library, or so it seemed at the time.  Reading, I’m sure, is one of those things that kept Grandma’s mind sharp, right up to the end of her days.

As I headed into my teen years, Grandma was always nearby with her encouragement and her smile.  Grandma took a real interest in me and in what interested me.  That is the way she was, always showing first and foremost her interest in the people in her life. When we would see each other, she would greet me with a simple “Hi Mike,” followed in the same breath with a question on how I was coming along in pursuit of my interests and my dreams.  At times when I might think about giving up on a particular thing, I knew that Grandma would be asking me about it the next time I saw her.  That would be motivation enough to keep on going.

As I got older, Grandma continued to be a strong presence in my life.  She was there for my marriage, she was there for the birth of my two children (her great grandchildren), and she saw them grow to be independent and confident adults.  And she was there for the birth of two great-great grandchildren, the oldest of whom is now 9 and the youngest 7.  How many of us have the great fortune in life to still have our grandmothers with us when we ourselves have become grandparents?  To span five generations is a wonderful thing; for me to occupy that center-point of those five generations is a precious blessing and one of the great joys of my life.  And through it all, every time we would see each other, the first thing Grandma would ask me was how I was doing in pursuit of my dreams.

I last saw Grandma alive several weeks ago at a family reunion.  We talked as usual; she asked me again how I was doing in pursuit of my dreams, and we ended the day in a very special way.  I sat at the piano and played several of her favorite hymns, and other hymns that I just picked at random.  She sat quietly for the most part, content to just listen and enjoy our time together.  It was just her and me.  At times I would turn toward her, and I could see her appear to tear up.  I had no idea that this was to be the last time I would see her on this earth.  What an incredibly special time it was for both of us.

One of my most cherished photographs was one taken of Grandma and me on my 50th birthday, nearly five years ago.  For some reason, there was nothing planned on my birthday that year, so my wife and I thought it would be really nice to spend a couple of hours with Grandma.  After all, not every 50-year-old has the pleasure of spending a little time with his grandmother.  I’m sure as part of her greeting that day she asked me how I was doing in pursuit of my dreams.

Dreams come and go.  Throughout our lives, priorities change and life becomes driven by the nuts and and bolts of daily existence.  Abstract “what ifs” give way to practical “must dos.”  But my grandmother, with her keen interest in her grandson, grabbed hold of those dreams of my youth and preserved them for me throughout my life.  I will remember Grandma as an amazing person and for many wonderful things.  But perhaps I will remember my Grandma Keur most importantly for this one thing: my grandmother was a keeper of dreams.

Goodbye, Grandma; but for just a little season.  I will see you again someday soon!

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Responses

  1. Beautiful Mike… lots of memories. She loved her family who meant the world to her. I guess I just thought she would live on this earth forever!

    We took her out to dinner and went up to her apartment and visited just before we left for Florida on the Sunday before she passed. I also talked to her two times on the day before she passed…. one time she called me in Florida and one time I called her. She sounded the best she had sounded in a very long time. I told her we would be returning to Michigan on Dec. 8th and would be staying until January 4th…. she liked that. She was looking forward to Christmas and Sarah’s wedding on the 31st… but I guess God had different plans for her.

    Her Bible on the corner of her casket was so her… she read it daily and was so in touch with her Lord. I am sure she was looking down on us at her funeral and listening to you and Marlene sing so beautifully and do all the music for her funeral… she loved music and especially when it was performed by her family. It was a beautiful and meaningful memorial service and I know she would have been pleased. I told my girls they could repeat it for me someday… so hang on to the music! Also the committal at the graveside was special… it seemed to bring some sort of closure for me.

    The body is only the container for the soul which leaves the believers body at death and goes to be with the Lord. … John 3:16 was one of her favorite Bible verses. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” … NIV.

    It’s still hard to believe she is gone but we know without a doubt that she is in Heaven with our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ…. and that brings us comfort.

    She always wore an Angel Pin and somehow I feel she is with me as my Guardian Angel. We love you Mom and we will see you again someday in Heaven with the Lord.

  2. I loved reading your blog. Thanks for sharing!! We are very luck to have had such a wonderful grandma!!!


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