September 18, 2013

Grandma Atwood


I've been avoiding writing this post for awhile for a couple of reasons. Mostly because my internet hasn't been working, but the other reason is this: How do you write a blog post good enough to represent everything wonderful about a person who influenced your life from childhood to motherhood, but is now gone from this earth?

Grandma, Pamela "Penny" Mae, Atwood passed away on September 1, 2013, after a long, hard, and strong battle with non-alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver, at 69 years old. 

I never liked the name Pamela, but now I wear it with honor.

She never complained, even to the bitter end. I never heard a negative word escape Grandma's lips.

She taught me so many temporal things - how to bake, how to pick berries, how to weed a flower garden, how to cross-stitch. She also taught me many things that can't be shown - how to love your children, grandchildren, and great-grandchild(ren) endlessly, how to love your husband, how to treat strangers. 

She was at the hospital the day I was transferred to Edmonton to have Jack. She called me weekly after that, to make sure he was doing okay and I was doing okay, and to tell me how badly she wanted to meet him. That was when she was really going downhill and traveling wasn't an option. My mom said Grandma called her every. single. day. to tell her she needed to meet Jack. And she did! We made a special trip to Lethbridge the weekend after Jack came home so he could meet his great-Grandma Atwood.

Grandma had beautiful red hair (hence the name "Penny"). I'm praying for a red-headed baby girl to name after her.

Grandma loved Christmas. She collected snowmen, and always made sure all of her 18 grandkids got a little trinket to show her love.

Camping with Grandma and Grandpa in the summer was a favorite of everyone who ever went. Fishing, hiking, swimming, building chimneys on rainy days, berry picking, bird spotting, pancake breakfasts, onion rings, songs around the campfire.. These are the things that define my childhood summers.

Even just sleeping over with Grandma and Grandpa was an adventure - Slurpees and cans of Coke at 7-11, swimming then Blizzards, the live-action Peter Pan starring Mary Martin ("Hey! That's my name!" - can't tell you how many times I said that!), picking up the mail, playing at the park, going to nursery as a primary child (snack time - need I say more?), and chokecherry syrup. Oh, the chokecherry syrup. I crave that crap.

Everyone loved Grandma, and Grandma loved everyone right back. 

It was so hard to see her in the final weeks, immobile and sleeping, but I'm so grateful for the knowledge we have of the Gospel and the Plan of Happiness. Although we on earth will miss her fiercely, and I don't doubt that she also misses us, I know that she is enjoying getting to know her baby boy who passed as an infant, her parents, who passed when I was a toddler, her friends and cousins and nieces and nephews who have gone on. I know that she is never going to leave Grandpa's side - how could she after 50 years?? I know that she will be there waiting with open arms to welcome us all home. 

Pamela "Penny" Mae Hancock Atwood
May 3, 1944 - September 1, 2013
Fly me up to where you are,
Beyond the distant star;
I wish upon tonight to see you smile,
If only for awhile to know you're there.
A breath's not far away to where you are.
Merry Christmas, Grandma!


  1. Nicole, this is beautiful. Thanks for writing it. Now I need to go find some chokecherry syrup...Aunt Pam made it the best!

  2. Hi Nicole,

    Can I use this in the Hancock Hummer? It's a beautiful tribute to your grandma! FB me to let me know (I sent you a friend request a while ago) or email me, whatever. :) Thanks!

  3. I'm so sorry for your loss Nicole. This is such a wonderful tribute to your grandmothers life.


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