Dan Ulmer: Celebrating the life of Gladys Daily
Last week was a long week at our house. My mother-in-law, Gladys Daily, passed away. Despite my intruding into her family life 41 years ago, she somehow managed to make it to age 94.
If I could only say one thing about Gladys (trust me I’ll say more here) I’d have to say that she epitomized what all mothers strive for, as there was nothing more important in her life than her family.
Gladys was widowed in 1960 when her husband, Byron, died during heart surgery and left her with five children. She never re-married; rather, she raised her kids the best she could, and I have to admit that when I came into her family, at age 20 she also raised me.
Above all else I’ve always felt welcome at Gladys’ house, and I can’t recall how many times we moved in with her. There was that time we moved back from Colorado and Melissa was born while we’re living with her, then we moved back with Montana with three kids and lived with her… any time we’d show up at her door she let us in.
Then her daughter Rita and her husband Clint moved back from Australia and lived with her for five months… and Gladys moved in with us for the last two.
One of my most fond examples of her motherhood came back in the ’80s, when she took care of us all because both Renee and I worked. We’d come home at night, supper would be on the table, my socks and underwear were sorted and put in my dresser, and she knew where all three of our kids were… it was wonderful. And it was here that I realized this woman had become an integral part of our family… as far as I was concerned she could move in and run our house anytime she wanted to.
So the entire tribe came together for the funeral, the kids from Seattle and St. Louis and Hannaford and Cooperstown, and we laid Gladys to rest.
And leave it to one of the grandkids to put it all together. Kelci wondered whether it was okay to have fun at a funeral… “Shouldn’t we be sad Grandma Daily died?”
To which her mom told her that funerals are meant to celebrate life, and even though all of our hearts were broken at Gladys’s passing, we certainly celebrated her contributions to our lives… for five days…
As you can imagine, all of us cried at her passing, and Kelci wasn’t the only one to wonder about having fun at a funeral… so to end the day Grandpa Dan tried to assuage her grief by whispering the following in her ear:
“Kelci, you know I love you and I’m quite convinced that you love me, right?”
Kelci responded with, “I love you grandpa.”
Grandpa Dan continued by saying, “Well, when you truly love someone they become part of you and they are with you forever and ever, so no matter where you go we’re stuck with each other because those we love become a part of who we are… do you trust me on that?” To which Kelci looked him in the eye and said, “I love you grandpa.”
And nothing more needed to be said except thanks Grandma Daily, for loving us all…