“Hey, Christi?” The caller ID simply said “Pureyear”.
“Yes?” I answered slowly… I wanted to be upbeat, but the voice I recognized sounded tired and sad. He didn’t have to tell me why he was calling. I already knew. I felt it clear to my soul. My hand shook and my eyes teared up. Before we even ended the call my mind raced backwards and settled on one warm June afternoon. I found it ironic because, well, it was so fitting…
She wore a relaxed pink button down shirt, jeans, and dressy flats. Her slim profile and straight posture took a backseat to the elegance and grace that carried her across my front lawn. Her eyes sparkled and her soft grin pulled me in. Immediately I was intrigued by this slight but amazing woman. In her hands were a set of gardening gloves and a hand tool. A bucket of weeds sat in the yard and were the only evidence that she was in work mode.
Meet Mrs. June Pureyear. She was the embodiment of the beauty and longevity of a sweet and soft breeze on a summer June day. She extended her hand, and though weathered, it was strong and sure.
I would quickly learn that even when she was gardening, she was full of this elegance, grace, and spunk. She had a quiet determination and a class that is simply unmatched anymore. If someone were to say I was forced to describe her in but a single word, that’s the word I would choose. Class. It wasn’t just in the way she walked and talked, it was in the things she didn’t do or say, too.
For nearly 15 wonderful years, Grandma June lived next door to us. This past year she moved in with her son and honestly, it broke our hearts. She was family. She watched our kids go from their first ride home from the hospital to shaky first steps, from training wheels to two wheelers, from raking leaves for her to shoveling her snow. They loved to help her and she loved to dote on them.
Our mailbox would magically become filled with goodies around holidays and “extras” she would have when she got a craving to bake some delicious goodies. She bought popsicles for the kids so she could come out and enjoy watching them make sticky messes of themselves and then laugh while she watched them run through the sprinkler to wash it all away.
I will never forget the day I first met this woman who would weave herself into our hearts. I know that we are all born into families, but sometimes the sweetest family members are the ones who are adopted, chosen, desired simply because they are too amazing to not latch onto. She started out simply as “Ms June” but within the first couple years that our kids arrived on the scene, it quickly switched to Grandma. She wore the name badge with honor.
The last time I saw her, I had just finished putting dishes away and looked out my front window. I stopped in my tracks and turned to my husband and said, “Derek! June is standing in our front yard!” I rushed out the door and it was all I could do not to sweep this tiny woman off her feet into a bear of a hug. She was so much frailer than the last time I saw her. I smiled so big my eyes watered. We got the kids out of bed to come say hello to her and to her son. He had brought her back to look around and to see some friends. They had been by to see her house but we had missed them the last time they were by. They were heading home, but thought they’d stop by one more time on the way out of town, just in case we were home. The memory of that moment is so dear in my mind. It was the last hug before our Grandma June found her way to Heaven, to be with her sweet husband. I know she so ached to see him again, missed him, and had waited so long for her time to go. He had passed early in life and she spent most of her retirement years without him.
My heart is so very sad that she is gone from this life, but so overwhelmingly happy that she is together again with the love of her life. If he is anything like she was, I am sure he’s an amazing soul as well.
Goodbye Grandma June! We miss you and love you dearly!
May God bless you richly for the many works of your hands and for the heart you so freely gave to those around you. You will forever be missed and loved.
Your Algonquin Pass neighbor,
…along with the love of Derek, Lindsey, Allison, and Drake Campbell