But we all say that when people die, right?
"Oh, that person was so great!"
"Such a wonderful human being."
This time - there was not one exaggeration in the room as people came up to the microphone to talk about Hilda. It was all real and it was all about the simple things...
Like how she was left alone with four small children during WWII while my grandfather was in the reserves and she never uttered a word of complaint. Or how she sewed all of her five children's clothes. Or how she always had an open door policy for acquaintances (and strangers at times) to stay overnight while driving through town or stop for a home-cooked meal.
My grandmother was a creature of habit. Every morning, she had a cup of hot water with honey - it's good for you. She ate the same cereal mix with "long milk". She read the Bible. She prayed. In fact, I think the rituals themselves is what really was good for her. She always had a sense of calm and was never rushed.
When she was 86 years old, she came over to the US to visit her daughter with family in Minnesota and our family in Atlanta. One of the stories that was told today is that when my aunt asked her to stay a little longer, my grandmother replied: "I can't. I have to get home and sow the potatoes." It was part of the yearly ritual of getting her garden ready.
She stayed in her house with the garden that held not only potatoes, but lettuce, onions, peas, carrots, strawberries, raspberries, apple trees, and lots of beautiful flowers almost all the way until her death at 96 1/2.
The last few days of her life, she spent in the hospital, but she did not let go of her rituals. In fact, her last act was to call the nurse for her morning honey water. When the nurse arrived with the warm drink, Hilda had moved home to be with God and dance for joy with her husband Helmer who left this earth 23 years ago.
And what are my favorite memories at farmor's?
Visiting farmor by myself as a small child and getting to ride the bus with her to the grocery store and press the stop button. She gave me a shiny 5 krona coin to spend on "something tasty".
Swinging in the hamock under the big bush.
Walking into the house to be met by the aroma of farmor's cooking and eating vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce out of my favorite dessert dishes.
Dumping out the contents of the button basket on the kitchen table and sorting the contents based on various criteria.
Getting the call from my dad that I had a new baby sister (we had been shipped off to farmor's so my very pregnant 45-year-old mother could get some rest).
Picking the white "weed" flowers that grew all over the yard and making pretty garlands.
Playing games with farmor - especially Scrabble and Yatzee. Trying to beat farmor at Scrabble was virtually impossible. She was also the queen of cross-word puzzles.
Hilda lived such a simple life, yet meant so much to so many people. As I sat in church today and listened to all the wonderful things her family and friends had to say about her, I thought: "I want to be more like her." It's a lofty goal, but it never hurts to try, right?
She is my inspiration.