One of my favorite things about my late husband, Andrew, was how much he loved his grandmother, Elbie.
When we first met, he’d tell me stories about how Elbie and his late grandfather, Ira, would take care of him during the weekdays from when he was a baby through his toddler years while his mom worked to put his dad through medical school.
Andrew developed such a strong bond with his grandparents during those formative years of his life. So much so that after his dad finished medical school and his family moved to South Texas, Andrew would come back to Amarillo to spend the summers with his grandparents.
I always thought it was so sweet that while Andrew attended Texas Tech, he would visit Elbie (Ira passed away from cancer when Andrew was 10) on the weekends. To me, these visits said so much about his heart and his character, and those qualities about him were so attractive.
I’ll never forget the first time I went with Andrew to Amarillo to meet Elbie. She was 90 years old at the time, lived by herself, gardened, quilted, cooked, and did everything on her own, no cane or walker. Her mind was sharp as a tack. She was intelligent, warm, and kind, with a witty sense of humor.
I was in awe of her, and I thought, When I’m 90, I want to be just like Elbie.
I especially loved watching Andrew interact with her because he seemed so relaxed and at home. She’d cook his favorite meals and her eyes sparkled as she told me childhood stories about Andy, as she lovingly referred to him, which also happened to be the nickname I always called him. I could see he was the apple of her eye.
On the day I married Andrew, Elbie held my face in her hands and with tears streaming down her cheeks, she said, “Please don’t hurt him.” It was a moment I’ll never forget.
While I was pregnant with our daughter and in angst over what to name her (it was between Ellie and Everly), one of the reasons I decided to go with Ellie was because I loved that it sounded like Elbie.
Elbie was heartbroken when she found out Andrew’s cancer came back. I still can’t believe he passed away on her birthday. I will forever cherish the beautiful quilt she made for Ellie and me out of Andrew’s favorite t-shirts.
A couple of years ago, we celebrated her big 100th birthday with a family bash. It was a blast! Then for the past two summers, Ellie and I have made road trips to Amarillo with Andrew’s sister, Rene, and her three kiddos to visit Elbie. It’s been the most special time, and I’m so thankful for all of those precious memories.
About a month ago, Elbie took ill and moved to Cuero, so my father-in-law/her son, Dr. Heard, could take care of her. One by one, the family popped by to visit her in the nursing home. I hadn’t gotten to make the trip yet, and my in-laws encouraged me to get there fast, so Ellie and I jumped in the car with Rene and her kids to see Elbie.
She wasn’t lucid when we arrived. We held hands, and I felt so much love coming from her. I stroked her hair, kissed her forehead, talked, sang, and prayed over her. Ellie held her hand and told her how much she loved her.
On the drive back home from our visit, Rene was telling me about the time she took Andrew to one of his chemotherapy appointments and how his perspective on Heaven was so impactful. He told her how much he was looking forward to Heaven so he could go on adventures with Papa (Ira). After sharing this, our phones rang. Elbie had just passed away.
This weekend, we will be driving to Amarillo to celebrate the 101 years of Elbie Heard’s life. She is dearly loved and missed. Her influence, impact, and love are inside of our hearts forever. Love you, Elbie. Blessings.
PS Andrew’s aunt Carolyn once told me that she would print off my blog posts and bring them to Elbie to read when she’d come to visit her. It meant so much to me that Elbie read and saved my writings. That’s the caliber of person she was, thoughtful, kind, and caring.