November 7, 2010

A tale of two grandmothers...

Four generations of women: a Waugh, a Westfall, and two Wilburs

Although I have determined that the scope of this little blog will be the life and times of we Wilburs, it cannot be overstated how much we are influenced by those who came before us.  Among those are my two grandmothers, who have everything to do with the girl I was and the wife, mother, and woman I now am.
Grandma Westfall, a few years
before she went to be with the Lord
First, allow me to introduce to you my father’s mother, Janet McIntyre Ritchie Westfall, known to her loved ones as Etta, but never known to me at all.  In 1967, four years before I was born, this wonderful woman died in a car accident and went to be with her Savior the Lord Jesus Christ.  Not having had the privilege to know this special lady myself has saddened me all of my life.  I daydreamed about her as a little girl, wondering what things would have been like if she were still with us.  My dad would willingly tell me anything about her that I asked him, but being a man, I had to ask to find anything out.  Thankfully my mom knew her well also, and is more of a talker and a family historian like me.  My parents were just a young couple planning their marriage and life together when Grandma Westfall died.  But though she never would be my mom’s mother-in-law, my mom had known her for most of her life and loved her dearly.  My mom shared things about her with me all through my childhood and ever since, helping me to learn all about what made her so special.  She understands how much I wish I had known my grandmother.

Grandma Waugh on her wedding day
And now let me also introduce to you Alison Lindsay Dougal Waugh, my mother’s mother.  She played an important role in my life from the time I was born.  She went to be with her Savior the Lord Jesus Christ just last year after a valiant and graceful battle with Alzheimer’s.  From the day I came into this world this lovely and special woman adored me, merited or not.  I was her only granddaughter, and it showed in an outpouring of attention, gifts, and most of all, love.  When I was a child, her home always felt like an extension of mine, and that never changed for the rest of her life.  She loved me with all her heart, and I loved her right back the same.  And that love she had for me continued on in the way she treasured her great-grandchildren.  She was generous, kind-hearted, and a truly beautiful woman inside and out.  I miss her more than I can express.

By all accounts of my Grandma Westfall, and from my first-hand knowledge of Grandma Waugh, these two women had very little in common.  Grandma Westfall was athletic and active, one to take on new hobbies like learning to play golf.  Grandma Waugh was the glamorous and girly type, loving her make-up (or “war paint,” as she’d call it,) her perfume, fancy evening gowns, fur coats, and so on.  Grandma Westfall was a stay-at-home mother like so many in her generation, but Grandma Waugh worked as a bookkeeper while my great-grandmother, who lived with my grandparents, looked after my mom and the household she grew up in.  Grandma Westfall hiked the Grand Canyon, while Grandma Waugh preferred a Caribbean cruise.  Grandma Westfall would sing solos and could play the piano, but Grandma Waugh couldn’t carry a tune, yet played the piano by ear, and could ballroom dance as gracefully and skillfully as the folks on the Lawrence Welk Show she loved so much.

Grandma Waugh, my brother Paul and I
 Despite these contrasts, there were at least three important similarities between my two grandmothers.  Firstly, they loved their families and had them in mind in every choice they made about their lives.  Secondly, they loved each other’s children, my parents, and both families were thrilled that these two young people were planning a life together.  But by far the most important common bond between these two women was their faith.  They both had trusted the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior, and sought to follow Him as best as they each could in their very different lives.
There is a little bit of each of these women in me.  I have an athletic background, but I’m a glitz and glamour type (when I'm not wiping noses and cleaning bathrooms.)  I would love to hike the Grand Canyon, but would equally love to get all gussied up, strap on some high heels and drape myself in fancy-schmancy jewelry to celebrate such an accomplishment at an elegant restaurant.  I am a stay-at-home mom like my Grandma Westfall.  I love music, like each did in their own way.  And my family is my life, just as was the case for both of these lovely ladies.  But the single most important thing I have in common with these two women is my faith.  They both, unknowingly and knowingly, passed down to me many pieces of jewelry, lovely dishes, mementos, knick-knacks, furniture, and other such family heirlooms.  But they could not pass their salvation down.  My faith is not something that could be inherited nor that I could be born into as a baby.  It is a choice I made as a young girl myself, one that greatly pleased my Grandma Waugh, and that would have done the same for Grandma Westfall, were she not already enjoying being with that Savior in whom I trust.
And so I’m grateful for their example, and I am trying to set one for my children.  And if I’m so blessed, I will try to for my grandchildren one day as well.  I look forward to the privilege of being someone’s Grandma Wilbur, and to the fun of seeing what traits of mine they might inherit (or get stuck with, depending on how you look at it.)  But I also take very seriously the responsibility to share with the generations after me what I believe, that I love God’s Word and the truth found only in it, and to pray that they’ll make the same choice I did to trust what He says in it.  I know my grandmothers would approve.

Grandma Waugh teaches her great-granddaughter Audra and her dolls
that true glamour begins with the perfect hat.


  1. What a treasure your Grandma Waugh was - such a classy lady with a HUGE heart!! She could not chat with me at church EVER without pulling out pix of your kids, Laura. I miss her. Can't wait to see her again in Heaven.
    This post is a beautiful tribute about your Grandmas . . . God has gifted you to write. Keep it up!

  2. Thank you for your kind words, Chris. My grandma thought the world of you too and always kept me up-to-date on how you were doing. And thanks also for your encouragement about writing - I'm enjoying this little diversion!