In the United States, today is Memorial Day, a day honoring those who have died in war, and also a day when we often pause to reflect on the lives of loved ones who have gone before. Following are some reflections by Mary about her grandmother.

My grandmother on my mother’s side has always been a great inspiration to me. She was 75 when I was born and lived another 18 years, so I had a chance to know her and spend some time with her, although we had moved halfway across the state when I was five.

Grandma came to northwestern Oklahoma in a covered wagon from Kansas. She and her husband (who died before I was born) lived in a dugout for some time before they could build a house. They were farmers and raised wheat and cattle.

Life was filled with hard work for Grandma. She cooked and baked on a wood stove for many years. She raised a garden for vegetables, which she canned for the winter. She sewed clothes and household items. She had all the usual housework and childcare (she had 5 children), but also helped some with the farming. Mom used to tell me about how Grandma and Grandpa were always feeding neighbors who were having a hard time – not that they had much either. People knew that if they were out of food, they could go to Grandma’s and Grandpa’s at suppertime and would be warmly welcomed and fed. Grandpa would entertain them with conversation while Grandma slipped into the kitchen and made more biscuits and noodles to fill out what they had to eat and everyone had a grand time.

Although not a Mormon, Grandma was a hard worker, a good Christian, a good wife and mother, and a good neighbor. When we went to visit her, she always prepared wonderful meals and had our favorite sugar cookies baking when we arrived. Her custard pie was out of this world. She greeted us with smiles and hugs and I never saw her being angry or upset. She was always bustling around doing something, and happily talking to whoever was around while she did it.

I can’t imagine having to work so hard – we have so many modern conveniences these days. We do, however, have work that we need to do–housework, church work, service, work outside the home, and so on. When I think of Grandma and other pioneer women and how they managed to do all those things without all the ease we have today, it inspires me to try to be more like them – more disciplined and yet cheerful, happy and content with what I have. I appreciate history – family and church – that tells me about these wonderful, hard-working women. They are good examples to me and inspire me to be a better person.