I am proud to be the grandson of Darlene Miller. She has literally been there for me from the moment I was born. Grandma is the one who drove my mom to the hospital the day I was born. If she’s told me that story a million and one times, she’s told it a million different ways, each time a new detail emerging. My favorite version of the story was told a couple months ago when I was visiting her in the hospital, she said, “Now your dad, he really loved his girls, but he was proud to finally have a boy.”
If you knew Grandma at all, you knew she loved to tell stories. I’m lucky because she told me stories I don’t think she told the other grandkids. Grandma and I had this deep appreciation for the old-time country music. She told me stories about the concerts she attended. The story I really enjoyed was when she saw Little Jimmy Dickens in Unionville, Missouri.
I have fond memories of Grandma that will forever be in my heart. Like the time she confused our pepper shaker for cinnamon and covered her oatmeal in pepper. Or the time Jeremy, Chanda, and I spent the night at her house and she took us to Hardee’s for breakfast. The time she called me up on a Sunday night to tell me Dale Earnhardt had died. All the back roads she and I traveled the summer I was fifteen; I was taking her to therapy and doctor appointments. Sitting out on our patio and playing her some songs on my guitar. There are countless other memories.
Grandma was my friend. I could tell her absolutely anything in the world and I knew she would still love me. Kim and I joked that Grandma is my secret squirrel. I can’t recall one single time Grandma was mad at me or even raised her voice to me. I will dearly miss her friendship.
One day when I went to visit Grandma in the hospital I told her how proud I was of her. I’m proud of her work ethic; proud that she raised her six children basically on her own; proud that she taught my dad and his brothers to respect themselves and women. She taught us all to do things the right way, to work for what you’ve got. I told her whether she realizes it or not, she is a big reason for who I am today. I told her I appreciate all the sacrifices she made for her children. The life lessons she taught my dad and his siblings make me proud to bear the name Engle, even though she no longer has that last name. The whole time I was talking, Grandma sported her beautiful smile. I swear, when that lady would smile, everything in the world was right. She was absolutely beautiful.
I don’t think there will be a day of my life that I don’t think about Grandma. It’s the little things that will be a constant reminder. Every time I pick up a guitar, I will think about my biggest fan. Every time I eat oatmeal, I will think about that pepper shaker. Every time I see a rummage sale, I will think of her love of a good bargain. Pancake Day will never be the same. Nothing will be the same. I will miss my friend every single day of my life.
Grandma, I know you made it to the good side. You were an angel walking among us. I will cherish every moment we ever spent together. If someday I have children, they will still feel your amazing influence, and they will know all about you, I will not miss one single detail. I miss you dearly, Hon. I love you, Grandma.