I am so sad.
Today the world has lost an extraordinary woman, wife, mother, grandmother, mother-in-law, and friend — and one of the most wise, decent, kind, generous, gentle, thoughtful, gracious human beings I have ever had the distinct privilege of knowing.
If you are familiar with my work, you know that I often bluster on and about how I don’t care what anybody thinks of me…that the only thing that matters is what I think of me — but that is not the actual truth. I cared very deeply about what this woman thought of me and respected her opinion…because, every single day that I knew her, she EARNED that respect and admiration. Through her acts of kindness, understanding, patience, and compassion, I learned so much from her about being both a good person and a good mother. When I married her son, we were still just two stupid kids in Fresno, California, with NO idea what we were doing…but she welcomed me into her family with open arms — and never shut me out, even when that teenage marriage eventually ended 16 years and three gorgeous babies later.
When her amazing son first brought me home to meet them all those years ago, I can’t even imagine what she must have thought. I was nothing more than a lost girl from a shattered, scandalous family, looking for peace and normalcy and a quiet place away from the chaos, discord, abuse, and violence in which I had been raised — traumatized and ashamed of who I was, and where and what I came from. Despite all that, she and her husband saw the good in me and the potential in me…and loved me anyway. They believed in me BEFORE I BELIEVED IN MYSELF. I will miss her always…and it is him and his unspeakable loss for whom I grieve most today. They were married for 50 years.
My children’s hearts are broken into a million pieces right now — but all three know that they had the great fortune to have something that some people will NEVER KNOW. They know they were lucky enough to have had one of the most EPIC, AWESOME GRANDMOTHERS EVER…and that the buttery love (and DELICIOUS cooking!) she showered them with every day of her life will surely carry and uplift them until the ends of their very own.
Please rest in peace, Woman Who Mothered Me — and know that you will live on always through the love you gave my children every day of their lives…and that they, in turn, will pass that love onto their own babies. And on and on it will carry…like a shimmering, silver thread both back and forward into time. There is no greater legacy a person can leave the world than that:
Rest In Peace, BELOVED Grandmother…Bonnie Bolding.