for grandmother.

When anyone, especially those of us who mourn her loss, thinks of Shirley Smith,






A rush of adjectives flood one’s brain:


She was faithful,



nurturing, especially to her grandchildren,

She was gentle,



A word that might not immediately leap to mind is “fierce.”

But she was. My grandmother was fierce.

Ferocious, even,

in her love for us.

My grandmother loved us, her family, in a way that was SO fierce, she could have conquered Rome, scaled Everest, beat the Seahawks in the Super Bowl. That’s how deeply her love for her family ran, how powerful the strength of her love vibrated.


But she didn’t do any of those things.

She gardened,

She sang,

She played the piano,

She prayed.

She welcomed children and grandchildren and a precious great-grandchild.

And through it all,

She loved us.

With a force as strong and steady as gravity,

She loved us. 

And with every passing day, 

She loved us more.


And I’ll tell you:

She loved us





Heaved has gained a radiant angel in Shirley Smith, one who will dance, sing, receive bear hugs from Peter and plan Heavenly treasure hunts for sweet Noel. She’ll swim in the lake with her father and teach Sunday school with MaMaMa, her grandmother. She’ll sing all five verses of every obscure hymn by memory without first having to find her glasses. She’ll beat Saint Peter at Scrabble by a landslide. She’ll recite all 45 minutes of “The White Hills of Dover” while looking out over the White Hills of Dover. She’ll watch all of the years of memories captured in her scrapbooks come to life over and over again.


She’ll also be right here,

between the palms of our hands, held in prayer,

in the blood pumping to and from our hearts,

in our voices, every time we say

“God bless you,” and



How lucky for us, that we get Grandmother as our angel.

How lucky for Heaven to have such a spirit in its midst,

How lucky we are to have known and loved her 

and may we all be at peace knowing her open arms will be ready and waiting

when we arrive at the end of our own long, happy lives.


Because if she was fierce down here,

just imagine how brightly she shines up there.