A Life Well-Lived – My Grandmother

In the summer of 2012, we lost Dema, my mom’s mother. In the spring of 2013, we lost my Grandma, my dad’s mother. This week, my Grandma would have celebrated her 90th birthday.

In her last several years, she battled Parkinson’s disease. My aunts, parents, and cousins were amazing caring for her as she needed more and more help over the last several years.

About my Grandma (from the obituary):

“Marjorie Elizabeth Parks Bryant was born in Kyle, Texas on June 4, 1924. She graduated from Kyle High School in 1941 and married B.A. Bryant of San Marcos, March 6, 1944. They lived most of their lives in San Antonio and moved to Granite Shoals upon retirement in 1979. She was predeceased by her husband, B.A. Bryant in 1981. Marjorie, known as Mama, Grandma, Momo, and GG, is survived by her four children and many grandchildren and great grandchildren. All of her family lives in Texas.

Marjorie will fondly be remembered for many things, including her moment of fame in 1993 when a Blue Footed Booby bird from the Galapagos Islands came to live on her diving board at her home at Lake LBJ for over 1 ½ years. Over 5,000 people from 8 different countries came to see the bird she named Bobby. Marjorie will also be remembered for her sense of humor, her joy of gardening, her love of church hymns, and her kindness. Even though she was very shy, she made it a point to be friendly to everyone she met. Anyone wishing to make a donation in her name, please make it to the American Parkinson Disease Foundation.”

The memorial service included lots of stories from her children and grandchildren. Here are some of the stories and thoughts my brother Scott and I shared on behalf of the family:

We love funny stories, especially about the embarrassing things that happen – the more embarrassing the better.

When something bad or embarrassing would happen, she used to say: “Might as well laugh about it ”

As a child, she was in a talent show with Aunt Marilyn and ended up crawling out a window while she was on stage because she got the giggles. 

When she was a kid she and Marilyn and someone else were wearing white sheets pretending to be ghosts and walking around their small town of Kyle.  People got all upset and ran away thinking they were the Ku Klux Klan. They were pleased that their ghost costumes were so effective.

Even when she was having a hard time walking and would freeze up and couldn’t move her feet, she would start laughing instead of getting mad and frustrated.

She was Kind.

She used to say: “You can get more flies with honey than with vinegar”

She made me be friends with every girl that didn’t have a friend because she told me I needed to think about how sad it would be to not have any friends.

Our trip to Florida with Mama was full of stories.  I woke up in the night at our hotel and found Mama in the bathroom pushing herself against the sink in a  self-Heimlich maneuver.  Suddenly a cough drop popped out across the sink.  I asked her what she was doing and she said she fell asleep with the cough drop in her mouth and didn’t want to wake anyone, so she ran to the bathroom to give herself the Heimlich.

All Rebekah wanted to ride was the Dumbo ride and Momo stood in line with her several times so she could ride it over and over.

On the way home we stopped at NASA and had a wonderful tour.  Momo was willing to miss all the exciting stuff to walk around with a 3 year old Rebekah  looking for Ninja Turtles under the sewer grates on the NASA grounds

As a Wife:

Daddy was very strict, but sometimes we could get around that if we asked Mom.

When she and my Dad would fight she would get on the piano and belt out church songs to irritate him.

My Dad said things were much better in his marriage before his daughters told Mama about women’s lib.

She never learned to ride a bike so Daddy bought her a giant tricycle she used to drive around the lake.

As a Mom:

Don and Pat were 5 and 3 years old and rowdy. Marjie threatened to leave the house if they didn’t calm down. They refused to calm down so she left. The two little boys ran to the front yard to see her drive away. At the end of the street she started to turn around. 5 year old Don told 3 year old Pat: “We better get inside and act like we’re sad so she won’t drive away again!”

I remember a peach cobbler with cayenne pepper on it rather than cinnamon. Ironically that would probably be popular today – at least in Austin where I live.

She came out of church in the pouring rain and was holding a baby Jan and Sherry’s hand and trying to herd Don and Pat into the car when Daddy drove up the building.  Her garter belt broke and her hose fell down.  She took her shoes off and stepped out of her hose put the kids in the car and left her hose and garter belt on the sidewalk of the church.

‘I think the most telling story about Margie came out just a couple days before she passed away.  The caregivers said that everything in her body was shutting down except for her heart.  It just wouldn’t quit. I can easily believe that Margie’s heart was bigger and stronger and kinder than anybody I ever knew.  And it will beat forever in all of us.’ – Dale Kohler

She was Caring.

When Adam was born her comment was “You will now worry the rest of your life.”

Every time I see a blue bonnet I think of my Momo.  The color purple is Momo.  I think of Momo when I eat watermelon.  Momo had the most beautiful whistle.  I love and miss the beautiful music she would make.  I always looked forward to going on long walks with her and the family over to the granite rock or to pick blackberries.  I would get so excited as a kid when Momo would come out on the boat with us.  Momo used to drive down to SA when I was sick to watch over me when my parents couldn’t get off work.  Momo used to drive down to SA when I was sick to watch over me when my parents couldn’t get off work.  Momo bought me my first tube of lipstick.  Momo use to write me the sweetest letters when I was away at college and always included some helpful article she found in the paper.  She had beautiful handwriting and meant so much to me.   Momo had so much love for her family — really the one word that I would use to describe her is Love.  She had so much love for family and God.  She truly the best person that I know.    I  know that she is so happy where she is and is so deserving and proud to be in heaven right now.  I truly miss her (and have for years).

She had 10 years of a life back here in San Antonio.  6 of those years were pretty good for her.  She stayed active in the events at Sterling House.  I don’t think people realize that it was so long. As time went on she became my child and later called me Mama. She was willing to let me dress her up at Halloween and got into the spirit of it for the parties. She was a cat, dog, angel, gyspy, and a witch. She didn’t mind people laughing at her. She felt like that was a good thing.

She was shy but as she deteriorated, I was told by many of the residents at Sterling House that she was the one that had made them feel welcome when they first moved in.

After grandpa died, she would travel from time to time which stirred something in me – a desire to experience the world my Grandmother a widow who coughed a lot experienced.

She was very quiet yet she was always humming, singing, or whistling.

Her faith was real and deep. 

Her relationship with Jesus helped her through the challenges of life and made life better.

A song she specifically chose for her memorial service was “In the Garden.” I think the lyrics had a double meaning for Grandma. She loved to garden and go on walks, and she loved Jesus. She had a lot of time on her own over the years losing her husband over 30 years ago.

The song is based on a significant moment in the history of the church – a day we celebrated just two days before she passed away.

John 20

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”

 Two of the disciples ran to the tomb and saw that He was not there, but the linens which wrapped His Body was still there.

11 Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.

13 They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

15 He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”

Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).

17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her….

Jesus then appeared to the disciples and told doubting Thomas: “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

30 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

In The Garden
By Charles Austin Miles (1912)

I come to the garden alone
While the dew is still on the roses
And the voice I hear falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses.

And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.

He speaks, and the sound of His voice,
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing,
And the melody that He gave to me
Within my heart is ringing.

I’d stay in the garden with Him
Though the night around me be falling,
But He bids me go; through the voice of woe
His voice to me is calling.

Grandma’s Legacy (as of April 2013):

Bryant Easter 2013




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