My mom called this morning to tell me that our pioneer, Pearl Naegle Redd, returned home to Heavenly Father...this morning as Pioneer Day dawned beautiful and bright. I feel so blessed to have grown up with my grandparents literally in our backyard (our yards bordered on each other and I just had to skip through the gate to be at Grandma's house.
I don't ever remember Grandma ever being too busy for me. It seemed to me that we played endless games of "I Spy", "Who Has the Thimble" and our made up game, "Itchy Blanket". Even when Grandma had things to do, she always had old catalogs and scissors ready for us to cut out paperdolls. I'm sure we left huge messes, but I don't ever remember hearing her complain. Sleepovers at Grandma's were frequent, but still a treat. She always let us use her water pik after we brushed our teeth - we thought that was so cool! But mornings were the best! We got to eat "Grandpa's cereal" (quaker instant oatmeal packets) and then have our hair braided in a beautiful crown around our head complete with a big bow to hold it in place.
Grandma's cooking was a favorite: homemade bread & rolls, stuffed bell peppers, raspberry freezer jam, pumpkin, cherry & apple pie (all from scratch!), vanilla ice cream and homemade macaroni & cheese are just a few favorites that I remember. In fact, I can still smell them as I think about it. Being in the kitchen with Grandma was so sweet. One of my favorite memories is of pulling honey candy with her - something we did at least once a year!
I'm so grateful for Grandma's example of hard work. She was up at the crack of dawn, working in the garden & yard. When we drove cows, she was always in on the action, driving pilot truck and making sure we all had something to eat on the long, hot rides along the highway pushing cattle.
Grandma made holidays special for us grandkids. I loved trick or treating at her house because she didn't just dump a handful of candy in our bags, she invited us in, ooed and ahhhed over our costumes and then pulled out the special treat that she had just for us! Thanksgiving was always delicious with those pies and Christmas, in addition to always getting us some darling outfit or fun toy, there was always one of those awesome plastic candy canes full of M&M's. She knew what we liked! And it was like having two Christmases - one at our house and then one in Grandma's beautiful living room too! Easter was perhaps one of my favorite holidays to celebrate with Grandma at our annual family picnic in Dry Valley. She always decorated eggs (if we were lucky enough to make it over while she was doing it, she ALWAYS had those cool plastic shrinky things to put on them!!!) Then she would take ALL of those eggs and let us roll them down the red rock hills over & over again. I don't know why that tradition was so fun, but it was. And those plastic wrappers kept the eggs from coming apart too fast so we could roll them again and again! I loved celebrating Pioneer Day (a Utah State holiday on July 24th, commemorating the first pioneers to enter the Salt Lake Valley) with Grandma & Grandpa. They always came over to our house that night to watch the fireworks with us. It was a treat to sit in our nightgowns and eat Grandma's hot, buttery popcorn. It was so fun to have grandparents close on our birthdays, too. I don't remember too many when she & Grandpa didn't walk through the backyard to be with us. Our Eighth birthdays she made especially sweet for us girls... always reminding us each what precious "pearls" we were to her, by presenting us with a real pearl necklace (Her name is Pearl, which gives so much more meaning to that gift!)
Mostly, I'm grateful for Grandma's testimony of the gospel, which I saw in action as a young child. She was always caring for someone or taking a meal to a family in need. And she and Grandpa were workers in the Manti temple for many years. As a young child, I didn't always understand why my grandparents were away so much, but now I know and am so thankful for the great work they did and their example of sacrifice to serve the Lord.
Grandma, I miss you and can't wait to see you again! I'm glad you've been released from pain in this life to be with Grandpa and wish I could've seen that reunion! I love you so much! I think I'm going to make me some popcorn now and think about fireworks and you!