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How Millie Got Her Name

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Today I did a hard thing I’ve been avoiding. I unboxed my Grandma Millie’s ceramic Christmas tree. You know the one, handmade with multicolored plastic lights. It must’ve been a thing in the 80’s and 90’s. Every year I get it out, read the note that accompanies it and have myself a good cry. This year was no different, but extra tears for extra reasons.

Let me give you some back story. Growing up in northern Arkansas we were a few hours away from any family. My parents moved there for my dad’s first job out of graduate school. They found themselves in Mtn. Home, AR after 2 years in North Carolina. They immediately got involved at church and adopted/were adopted by the sweetest widow lady, Mildred “Millie” Garner. She also had no family in town. We’re still not sure who rescued who. I never knew a time without her, she was as much my grandma as were my own. She was a part of everyday life. We picked her up for church, she babysat us, we spent the springs and summers making her huge yard look to her standards. What I wouldn’t give to sit on the edge of one of her many flower beds and pull weeds with her again. I remember one summer how patient she was explaining to me what I was pulling up were actually flowers. Oh Bless.

She was widowed young and a cancer survivor. For someone who had suffered so much grief, she had so much spunk. Even into her late eighties. She couldn’t have been taller than 4’ 11” and her signature move was to take your face in both of her hands and bring your head down to her level so she could give you a kiss on the forehead. We’ve smiled so often at the thought of her getting my Bryan’s 6’4” head down to her level.

She passed away my freshman year of college. She was the first loved one I’d have to learn to live without on this side of heaven. She is missed so often, but especially this time of year that she loved so much. Bryan never got to meet her, but always listened to our stories of her. It was his idea to name our little girl after her. The thought hadn’t even crossed my mind!

Grandma Millie’s Birthday was October 24th, and we were due with Millie on October 21st. There would’ve been a possibility that they could’ve shared a birthday! When I was in labor and delivery my mom got out a firm stuffed bear. She said that Grandma Millie had sewn it for her to squeeze during labor when she was pregnant with my brother. It was so special to have with us on the day we delivered her. It’s now in our box of baby Millie’s things.

So this year, as I light up that special ceramic tree, I think of all the stories I would’ve shared about the special lady who gave Millie her name. We will still share the stories of both our Millies until we meet them on the other side. For now I cherish the thought of both of my Millies together in heaven.

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