Marilynn Esther Benedix Gage (1922 – 2013)

This past week has been hard on my family. We had to say goodbye to an incredible woman, my grandmother.

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It started last Tuesday, when she was admitted to the hospital for what they originally thought to be a UTI. Things quickly turned for the worse, and by Wednesday evening she was gone. Just like that.

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Half of my grandmother (it’s the only older photo I have) with my parents. Yes, my parents are hotties.

Less than a week later, the funeral was done, and we were getting back to life as usual.

Life goes on. A sentiment at once promising and heartbreaking.

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December 2012, reading to Natalie, 11 months old.

She’d been declining in health for the last 2 years, waffling between her home in Maine, my mother’s home here in Massachusetts, and finally, a rest home in Worcester for her final year. There she was visited daily by her daughters, grandchildren, and great grandchild. I am eternally grateful that she was so present in Natalie’s life, the brief amount of time that was in the grand scheme of things.

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From June 2012, when Natalie (6 months) and I took care of her in Maine for 3 weeks.

She was the only grandmother I knew. My father’s mother died before I was born. Some may feel sorry for themselves, and I wish I could have known my other grandma, but I never felt deprived or lacking in only knowing Grandma Gage. As a matter of fact, I considered myself luckier than most. Now I have the extremely difficult task of keeping her memory alive so that Natalie will know who this loving, elegant lady was. When the opportunity arose to speak at her funeral, I jumped at the chance. Not only so I could tell others how blessed I was to have had her as my grandma, but also to create a record for myself and Natalie in the years to come, while the emotions were fresh.

Briana speakingI prayed for the right words, and here they are:

“Hi, my name is Briana, and I am a ‘Gage Girl’. For those unfamiliar with the term, it was lovingly coined by the men who have joined our family through marriage. What defines a ‘Gage Girl’? Well, we are notoriously running a little behind schedule, we are all beneath the average height for a normal adult woman (some more so than others), we like tea with our cream and sugar, and we bounce our feet in unison when sitting on the couch like a troop of vertically-challenged Rockettes. Grandpa would be proud. [side bar: Grandpa had a soft spot for the Rockettes.] But growing up a ‘Gage Girl’ meant so much more than that. After all, these men married us for a reason. We were brought up by the best, whether directly or indirectly.”

mom_janet“As a new mom, you question every choice you make in raising your child. I wish Grandma had written a book, because she has built a legacy that I only dream of rivaling when my days here are over. But in a way, she did. She kept notebooks of quotes and thoughts that appealed to her or made her giggle. In rifling through one of them, I came across this:

Mom: prays, laughs, gives hope, believes, cares, blesses, supports, comforts and encourages.”

Natalie_cuddle” Grandma did all of those things. Her faith was rock solid, and it shone through her service to her church, family and friends, her quiet grace, and her thoughtfully crafted prayers over home-cooked meals. Her smile lit up a room, and she’d sit quietly for a half hour only to chime in with a witty joke or funny anecdote from her youth. Laughter fills our family gatherings. People were drawn to her because she cared so much for others. Everyone was important. To be a Gage meant knowing you were unconditionally loved. She was proud of each and every one of us, and she showed it. Whether she was announcing our visits in church, remembering the little things in one of her many handwritten notes to us, or wanting to know the latest in our acting, music, gymnastics, writing, schoolwork, family and careers. We’ve all had our trials, our bumpy moments, but she was always there to love us. It didn’t matter if you were her child, grandchild, great grandchild, spouse, steprelative, just a date, or the person she met at the post office…you were FAMILY.”

salute“As I grew older, Grandma and I found more ways to relate: our enjoyment of recreating history (though she admitted she and the other ladies at the Revolutionary War camps would seek refuge overnight at the hotel), our love for mystery novels, or most recently, over war stories from being a new mom. I see now that so much of who I am, who we are, is founded by her. How she raised her children and therefore how her children raised us.”

present“Proverbs 13:22 says ‘a good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children’. Well, we are all vastly wealthy thanks to this good woman. Thank you, Grandma. Because of you, your inheritance will continue to bless many generations to come.”

Now excuse me while I go use up a box of Kleenex.