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Farewell to a model of womanhood
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Nana walked side by side through life with her husband and knew he was waiting for her after this life. - photo by Erin Stewart
I bid farewell to my grandmother, Bobette Johnson, last week. I was fortunate enough to be by her bedside in her final hours of life, and as I held her hand, I thought of all the ways this wise, wonderful woman has been an example of motherhood and womanhood to me throughout the years.

She taught me that life is never too sad for a little laughter and joy. Nana exuded love and happiness wherever she went, and was always quick with a joke and smile. She was able to laugh despite the challenges of life, a quality that made everyone flock to her just to feel an ounce of her joy. Even as she lay in her hospital bed and her doctors informed her she had broken her hip, she laughed and said, Well that was pretty dumb of me, wasnt it?

She taught me that being feminine and tough can go hand in hand. Nana was probably the only 92-year-old patient with bright pink lipstick on the day she entered the hospital two weeks ago. Her hip may have been broken, but that was no excuse not to look her best. As someone who wears pajama pants to drop off my children at school, I have always admired Nanas ability to face the world with neatly coiffed hair, manicured nails and inexplicably soft hands. But behind that feminine exterior was a lady who was tough as nails. She battled through the Great Depression, personal illnesses, as well as the tragic death of a son and the leukemia that claimed her daughter. Through it all, she kept her head up and a smile on her perfectly pink lips.

She smiled through it all because her faith propelled her forward and her life was firmly centered on Jesus Christ. Ive heard people say that walking into Nanas home was like being in the temple. Love abounded within those walls for each other and for the Lord. She worked tirelessly to share Christs love as she served others, and built her own relationship with him daily in prayer and scripture study.

She also taught me how to be a wife. Nana was one-half of the strongest partnership around. She and her late husband, Glendon, were an inseparable team that always had the other persons best interest at heart. He would leave her love notes on the pillow. She would read novels by the fly-fishing stream as Glendon cast for hours. They acted not from duty, but because they loved to make each other happy. They rode together by horseback and by each others side throughout this life.

And when my grandfather left this world, Nana combed back his white hair as she had done so many times through his life. As Nana slipped away last week, I have no doubt that Glendon was waiting to take her by the hand once again.

Of all the things she taught me, perhaps the most important one to me right now is this: Life does not end here. A final breath is just a beginning. She had no fear as she faced death because her rock steady faith assured her that a farewell on earth was the beginning of a joyous reunion with her children, her husband and her sisters. So although I am missing Nana, I know somewhere she is singing with her sisters and saddling up with Glendon to head down a new and wondrous trail together.