Friday, July 11, 2008

Ilene Adelaide Hunt Hurst

September 24, 1917 - July 10, 2008

My grandma passed away yesterday. She had a massive stroke at the end of May and never regained very much use of her body or the ability to speak. The last year was hard on her. She broke her hip, went through rehab, and moved back home only to break 2 vertebrae a short while later. The pain medication from the spinal problems about did her in, but she improved and moved to an assisted living apartment which is where she was when she had the stroke. This time last year Grandma was still living on her own, driving occasionally (yikes!), and planning her 90th birthday shindig.

If you couldn't guess, Grandma was extremely independent. Even when forced to use a walker after breaking her hip, Grandma wouldn't let anyone else do even small things like taking a plate back into the kitchen or putting the newspapers in the garbage. Two summers ago after Grandma's first spinal fracture I planted a small garden in Grandma's yard thinking it would give me an excuse to go up and check on her every other day. Most days when I stopped in she was out working in the garden, watering or pulling weeds, which wasn't the point at all! Grandma did, after all, hold the record for swimming the longest length of time underwater as a girl in Bluff.

When Grandma had to stay in the rehab unit after breaking her hip she complained that the other people there couldn't even carry on a conversation about current events. Grandma watched the news every night and kept up on politics. It wasn't unusual to find some article that had interested her taped to the hallway wall. This past winter Grandma frequently lamented that she did not have the energy to go out and do her own Christmas shopping. Even if someone else volunteered to do the shopping, Grandma insisted upon going along so that she could pick out her own gift for whatever the latest occasion was. Christmas, birthdays, new babies, graduations -- Grandma recognized every event and accomplishment. I think my favorite gifts from Grandma were when we had a vacation planned to go out west. Grandma would send us a note with some money in it "to buy souvenirs." For little kids who never had any money of our own, being entrusted with a sum of cash to use for whatever we wanted was quite a novelty. I know I used mine one year to buy a little cedar treasure box from a gift shop at the Grand Canyon.

Grandma was at my high school graduation, my wedding, my college graduation, and my law school graduation. She visited me in the hospital when both of my boys were born. When I came to BYU I didn't have any of my family nearby. Grandma took me in and frequently invited me up for dinner or offered to take me and whatever cousins happened to be in town out to dinner. She had me and Bryce up for dinner when Bryce and I were just dating and was impressed because Bryce did the dishes afterwards. Grandma couldn't stand to have visitors in her home and not offer them something to eat and drink. No matter how loud and long we insisted that we weren't hungry, Grandma would go into the kitchen and start baking some cookies, or put a frozen pie in the oven, or bring up sodas from the downstairs storage. When my brother Evan came out to do a term at BYU, Grandma treated us all to chair lift rides at Sundance and rented mountain bikes for Bryce and Evan. In her younger years, I suspect she would have been riding down the side of the mountain as well if she'd had the opportunity.

When I brought my babies to her house to visit, Grandma always wanted to hold them and would rock them and sing them lullabies. Will especially loves visiting Great-grandma's house. He knows where all the toys are and knows he won't get in trouble for dumping them all out in the living room and then racing cars around on Grandma's glass coffee table. Grandma was even gracious when Will puked concord grapes all over her dining room floor. I tried to clean up and rushed him home. Grandma called first thing the next morning to see if he was feeling better. On another occasion, Sawyer was really fussy when we were at Grandma's house because he was overdue for a nap. Grandma was concerned even though I kept saying that he was just tired. The next day Grandma called just to make sure that Sawyer had recovered and was feeling better. One time when we visited Grandma brought out a new toy she had purchased so that "there would be something interesting for Will to play with." One of the buttons made a doorbell sound effect which on more than one occasion caused Grandma to open the front door for nobody.

On one of our family vacations out west, my parents took us to go see some Indian ruins they remembered going to when they were dating. We eventually located the ruins, but getting to them required crossing a rope and board bridge over a river and then crossing a large expanse of plain before we could reach the cliff in the distance. We had made it about halfway when we came to a barbed wire fence marked with frequent no trespassing signs. We stood around wondering what to do until Grandma grabbed hold of one of the no trespassing signs and pulled up, creating a gap between the wires and instructed us to "Go through right here."

In her later years, Grandma was constantly frustrated by the limitations of her aging body. Grandma, I hope you are enjoying life without physical restriction...and I hope you didn't have to cross any "no trespassing" signs to get there!

[I've been trying to get a few more pictures on here by stealing them from my brother's website, but it is not responding so I will try again later. I know I had pictures of Grandma holding both Will as an infant and Sawyer in the hospital, but I think they are on my dead laptop because I can not find them.]


Mike & Lauren said...

What a sweet tribute to your Grandma. Every time I saw her I too was impressed with her energy and spunky personality. It's weird that I saw you last weekend and we were just talking about her... I'm sure she is much happier now that, like you said, she doesn't have physical limitations anymore. Love to you and your family!

JoandDoug said...

Nice tribute Erin. It was sad to not see her in Orem today. I'm sure she's better off than being there. Let me know if you need anything or if I can do anything for you. She sounded like such a neat lady and I was glad to read about her.

romanrobertaloftus said...

I just saw your blog at Katie's blog. Hope you don't mind me checking it out...