To the Heavens Above
Today I want to celebrate a remarkable lady. Her name was Margaret Anne Hall. Annie. She was my Little Grandma.
I got to know my Little Grandma during her own fight against cancer. I was young and impressionable, and in the time that she lived with us, she taught me many lessons. She taught me how to iron and fold clothes; how to make homemade potato fritters; how to play Rummy; and how to knit a scarf. She laughed with me, shared stories with me, sang with me, and took me on little outings such as shopping or the movies. All this she did with me while fighting – and recovering – from cancer. She never seemed to skip a beat. She was a woman of strength, compassion, and integrity.
My Little Grandma was a complex lady. She was hard on those she loved – yet I really connected with her. She was a gifted story-teller and I loved hearing about her childhood, her days as an Ack-Ack girl in WWII and how she met my Grandad via two-way radio during the war; and then learning of my own Dad’s childhood shenanigans. Her stories were vibrant, funny, heart-warming, and memorable. I think it was through the love of story-telling that we ultimately connected. We just seemed to understand each other.
But quite truthfully, it was during her stay with us in the fall of 1987 – after her second battle with cancer – that my Little Grandma left a life-long impression on me. I was, to say the very least, a bundle of nerves at the age of 12. I was severely anxious and insecure – a direct result from being the victim to relentless bullying. She was patient and understanding with me, but she was also stern. She instructed me to stand tall, to hold my head high, and to keep my gaze forward instead of on the ground. She told me to never let someone strip me of my sense of self worth, and to always stand up for myself and fight my battles head-on. She demonstrated these characteristics to me by leading through example. I can remember one negative school incident in particular where she went straight to the principal… she demanded he apologize to me and he actually did! It left me in awe of this petite lady. At her tiny frame of 5-foot nothing she was a force to be reckoned with. She was a fighter. She reminded me that I am one too.
The way in which my Little Grandma lived her life was something to be admired. She endured many challenges and personal strife, yet she persevered. She never gave up, gave in, lost her faith, or compromised who she was. She faced every battle head-on. It was a quality that I admired about her – her strength. She was strong; but she was also compassionate, silly, and adventurous. She was complex. It is in this way that she led by example; and these qualities – these lessons – that she taught me have stuck with me and have helped to mold me into the woman I am today. It is why I can face my own battles and personal strife head-on. My strength and my courage I attribute to my Little Grandma.
I cannot think back on my childhood without seeing her there, helping me navigate the obstacles and encouraging me to trust in myself. For this, I am eternally grateful. It is her voice I hear inside my head when I am faced with challenges. It is her spirit that keeps my own strong. Although she is gone from us, she will never be forgotten. Her legacy is the strength, faith, and perseverance that she instilled in her children and her children’s children.
Today is my Little Grandma’s Birthday. Tradition was that I’d call her in the early morning and sing her Happy Birthday. Today I sing aloud in hopes she hears me from the Heavens above.
To the Heavens Above. Published by Crystal Joy Hall.