Celebrating a Wonderful Lady's Life

by Marenda Babcock

Last week, Bob's grandmother died at the age of 99. We were sad that she died two months before her 100th birthday, and she won't be able to attend her great-granddaughter's wedding this July. However, the loss of her only child, Helen, five years ago broke her heart and she wanted to join her. We are glad that God granted her wish.

We traveled from Indiana to Wisconsin for the funeral. The morning after we arrived for the services, I was getting my morning exercises when I spotted much to my surprise and delight a Goodwill thrift store. This store proved to be a great source of help and a wealth of surprise for our family.

My brother was the first to visit the store. He found several pairs of Docker pants, several dress shirts, and a nice jacket. All these clothes were purchased for about 20% of their original price. Back at the hotel, he was surprised to find a $10 bill wrapped up in some receipts in the pocket of the jacket. He had paid $10 for the jacket. He was able to wear some of the clothes to the visitation.

I was anxious to get to the thrift store to see what goodies it might hold. My mom accompanied me and found several pairs of dress pants for my stepfather. I picked up a pair of dress pants for Bob, several hardcover books, and a huge roll of wallpaper. Several of the books were originally $25 and I got them for 99 cents. The wallpaper was a steal because it has multi-colored dots on it. It would make perfect multiple-occasion gift wrap!

After the funeral, it was decided that the family would eat dinner at one of Granny's favorite restaurants. This was a restaurant she always took her family to when we came to visit her in Wisconsin. It is the kind of place where if you have to ask how much it costs you can't afford to eat there. We had made reservations for 14 of us to share a private dinning room with another group.

While sitting in the glow of the dimly lit restaurant, I looked over at Michael to see he was wearing a beautiful shirt I did not recognize. I asked Michael where he got such a handsome shirt. He very excitedly and much too loudly announced, "Oh don't you like this Mom. I got this at the Goodwill store when I went with Unka Jon?" He continued to elaborate, "I paid only $4.99 for it and it looks brand new." As he spoke, you could hear a pin drop. Everyone in the room was listening to Michael describe the quality of the fabric. My mom and I started laughing at the irony of eating in a fancy restaurant when many of us in the room were wearing our new thrift store finds.

I made hotel reservations for the group with a frequent customer card I had for a national hotel chain. Using the card helped us save 20% on the hotels. Once the reservations were made, I calculated the cost of the hotel. I called back the next day and spoke to the manager. I explained that our family would be spending more than $700 on the five hotel rooms we were booking for three days. I felt our family deserved an additional discount. She agreed and gave us an additional 10% off the total stay. That five-minute phone call saved us another $75.

The fact that we were grieving did not interfere with our goals of pinching pennies at all times. Granny taught us that. How else could she afford to send 14 family members to her favorite very fancy restaurant to celebrate her life and the way she lived it?

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