For those who know me well, you know how much I truly adored my Gram. Although Charlotte is no longer here with us, her legacy continues on through our family. Gram is most often remembered when chatting with relatives facing difficult or bold decisions, selecting new lip stick colors, finding a new recipe for roasted vegetables, buckling the seat belt for a nice road trip, or embarking on a new adventure. Gram was up for anything. She encouraged all of her children and grandchildren to be brave, to make decisions others would be proud of, and always dress the part. Gram lived her life gracefully, she courageously faced adverse circumstances usually accompanied by a sweet treat of some sort and designer perfume. She modeled the importance of love, friendship, giving back to the community, and thank you notes.
The child in me half expected to find a treasure when she passed away in the summer of 2010. Gram was 88. I thought I would find some hand written note that explained all of life’s curiosities including the recipe for the best ever chocolate chip cookies, how to tie the perfect bow, and how to live a meaningful life. It felt like a splash of cold water when I realized that the true treasure she left behind was the gift of showing our family how to live and die gracefully. The gift had been in front of me all along.
Gram always had the perfect thing to say but she also loved to listen. So when I was thinking of starting my photography blog, I had the perfect name even before I had the vision of the blog itself. Gram’s last words were spoken to her two daughters (my mom and aunt), “Be Beautiful.” Those words linger in the air even to this day. To me, it means to live your life beautifully. What an incredible message. Our family has taken Gram’s last words on as a mantra of sorts. Sometimes we sign emails, “Be Beautiful”, and yes cousin Claire and I even considered getting a little tattoo of some sorts (my mom didn’t think that’s what Gram had in mind). The day that she passed away, Gram also told my mom and aunt to “Always wear your lipstick girls.” Her final thoughts became a different type of treasure for her family along with the legacy of her character. Of course in the end I never found my hand written note unlocking life’s mysteries but the power in her last words will stay with me forever. Judging by how my mom and aunt scramble for their lipsticks on the way out the door, or quickly reapply half way through their Grande Starbucks Pikes Peak Roasts –Gram’s words will forever be with all of us.