A few days ago, we buried my grandmother’s remains in a family cemetery in South Texas. We made the nearly-10-hour journey, picking her vault up in Temple on the way down. It’s a trip I’ve made, until last summer, every summer of my life, and every summer of my mother’s life. Cumulatively, I’ve spent about five months on the shores of South Padre Island and about 8 months at my grandparents’ house in Harlingen.

I didn’t have a fractured childhood. Through health, luck, and determination, my family stayed together as I grew up and now, into my adulthood, we remain much the same. I lost two grandfathers as a teenager, before my adult mind got to know and appreciate them. Over the last 15 years, though, I got to know my maternal grandmother, Jane Schmoeller, after whom I was named, quite well. I’m heartbroken that she’s gone. I’m also heartbroken that her stories, memories, and unique voice are gone from the earth forever. What we know of her, the traits we inherited from her, and some photographs and ashes are all that exists of her here. And that’s just a shame, because she was so Much.

She taught me many things. She showed my by word and example that I was expected to respond to any need with a “Yes” and a smile.  That there is no excuse or time for self-pity. That prayer is for good times and bad. That any leftovers can be made into soup. She bred function and sunshine into my family, and I will be forever grateful for her influence in my life.


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