In the recent months I attended a “Celebration of Life” for Lydia Dees. I didn’t know Lydia personally. I attended this event because her granddaughter is a friend of mine. Yes, you read that correctly, her granddaughter who is my age or close to it. Lydia lived a long life.
The last years of Lydia’s life were spent in a nursing home specializing in memory care. She suffered from severe memory loss, fear and anxiety. My friend would go to be with her grandmother regularly. The tangible love she showed her grandmother, even in the midst of being a busy mom and wife, overwhelmed me. I knew from her words and actions how much she loved her granny so when the time came for the funeral I went to support my friend.
I didn’t realize what the life of Lydia Dees would suddenly mean to me.
I sat in the back and almost felt silly as tears rolled down my face. I couldn’t stop the tears. If anyone saw me I am sure they thought I knew Lydia. I never met her. I wish I had.
I learned that Lydia had 4 children, 10 grandchildren and 26 great grandchildren. I learned that she raised her children on her own after her husband passed away at an early age. I learned that she loved God.
She didn’t do anything society would consider important as far as schooling or career. For many years she worked at Walmart and is missed now by her co-workers and regular customers. According to what our world considers “success” these days she wouldn’t really measure up – no big houses or fancy cars. She wasn’t traveling the world or making big waves for social causes. She just lived in her little spec of the world.
“Just lived”? Not at all, there is no “just” about it in my book and this is why…
Lydia Dees loved her family so well that every single child and grandchild of hers felt loved. Not just loved but just as loved as the others. They all felt like her favorite because they all really were her favorite.
Some of her grandchildren (grandchildren! who are in their 30's or 40's!) shared about having their special time with their granny when they were young children. How excited they would be when it was their day and she would come pick them up. She took time with each of them. All 10 of them individually.
Some of her great grandchildren were in attendance and my friend’s daughter danced a beautiful tribute to her great-granny while the song “Supermarket Flowers” by Ed Sheeran played. If you have never heard this song, I highly recommend you listen to it now. You can use the link to listen. It is beautiful, but grab your tissues!
Her son in laws both spoke about her in a way that was so loving and tender. So different from most “in-law” relationships I have witnessed. My friend’s father, one of Lydia’s son in laws, shared a story about how he would dance with her in his living room when she still lived with him and his wife.
There were funny stories, a slide show and some sad moments during this service. For most, a typical funeral which we in the south call a “celebration of life”.
This service may have been “typical” for most in attendance, but not for me.
As all of these things were shared, by her family, for their own comfort and healing to honor their mother, grandmother, great grandmother little did they know there was a virtual stranger to this lovely lady sitting in the church weeping because I realized this life well lived, in a small spec of suburbia, this impartial, very equal love shown to her children, her grandchildren, her son-in-laws is exactly what I desire to achieve in life.
I suddenly realized if I can do that – love my children and their children so well that they all know without a doubt they were loved by me impartially and equally – that will be my greatest success.
I have often wondered and doubted if this was possible due to my own broken family history and dealing with partiality in relationships throughout my life.
Lydia Dees showed me this goal in action, she showed me I can do this. I can love my family so well that they all know how much they are loved by me and preferred by me.
Lydia Dees showed me my family really can know they all are my favorite. I’m not just saying it, I mean it.
Thank you for sharing your life, Lydia, and giving a name to one of my greatest desires.
A life like Lydia Dees.
Do you have anyone who has greatly influenced your life, even after their life was over? I would love to know about them! Comment below and share your story.