Barbara M. Kemp, more familiarly known as Grandma Great, passed away last Sunday. It's taken me about a week to gather my thoughts and emotions enough to formulate a meaningful tribute. I never knew my dad's parents; they had both passed before I was born. My mom's parents lived in Texas when I was growing up, and while I knew them, they were not a hugely tangible part of my life. Grandma and Grandpa Great, however, from the moment I met them, stepped into the role of grandparents to me and offered me love and encouragement as if I were truly one of their own. There is an enormous part of me that constantly wishes my childhood, too, had been filled with their presence.
In only the 9 short years I knew her, Grandma Great has been a thorough example of the woman I should be - always full of love, never quick to judge, and as mentioned by so many, she had the rare gift of making each individual who crossed her path feel like the most important person in her life.
As said by Michelle: "A wife who sang and danced with smiles and laughter...a mother cheering and supporting all the days of her life...a grandmother full of empathy and understanding...and never afraid to get a little dirt under fingernails...a great grandmother...tenderly coddling sweet newborns...yet spunky enough to chase 10 giggling toddlers at a time...a rock...a spiritual giant!"
As said by Elaine/obituary: "The sunniest peach to be harvested from Dixie's red soil . . . Barbara was hand-picked, fully ripe and sweet, and gently carried back to her heavenly home . . . [She] has plowed on through many sorrows and nurtured her husband through four near fatal illnesses. She has watered, nourished, and cultivated all who knew her till the Father, the Master Gardener, said, 'Come home.' To Barbara, a 'tree of righteousness, a planting of the Lord' and from those of us still hanging on the tree, we say, 'We love you forever, we honor you eternally, and we miss you enormously till our own harvest brings us home.'"
Grandma Great, my greatest desire is to become a fraction of the woman you were on this earth. Thank you for setting the bar so high and enriching our lives beyond understanding.