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Saying goodbye to great woman

Early Thursday morning, I watched the strongest woman I’ve ever known struggle to breathe.

A few hours later, through glossy eyes, I watched her exhale for the last time.

As family members crowded around her bed, sobbing and hugging, a slide show of memories of this great woman played in my head — teaching me the Bible as a child and leading the entire family to church, allowing me to live in her home as a teenager and young adult, sharing wisdom and perspectives, always greeting others with her trademark smile and a warm welcome.

I could go on and on about the impact this wonderful woman made on me.

Wanda Moreland Anderson, my grandmother, the mother of the greatest mother on Earth, Mary Jo Frazer, left this world at 2 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 4, at the age of 90.

Lucid and fully aware of her surroundings right up to the end, Mawmaw left behind a legacy that makes me proud to be in her blood line.

She buried her husband, Paul, after 30 years of marriage, in 1972. She buried her only son, Rick, in 2003. In the 1980s, when she was in her 60s, she sacrificed her life savings and security to acquire a business, Anderson’s Pizza Pub, to provide employment and income for her children so they could care for their children.

At one time, she was one of the wealthiest women in Ironton. When she died, she was nearly penniless.

But material things never mattered to Mawmaw. She was a giver and she gave until it hurt — and then she gave some more, because the sacrifices she made always helped many other people.

The gravity of life bore down on her shoulders frequently as she aged, but she accepted her burdens with a smile and the most positive outlook on life I’ve ever witnessed.

Thanks to her influence on my life, I put my problems on her scales of perspective. Most of the time, once I think about how she would handle situations, I realize they amount to nothing.

When she buried Rick, who was only 47 years old at the time, I remember how amazed I was at how she handled the loss.

Sure, it cut her to the core to lose her son. But, true to form, she was more concerned at the time with comforting her children and grandchildren, specifically Rick’s children.

Friday, as the family cleaned out Room 401 at Sherman Thompson Towers, we stumbled upon an envelop marked, “The Last Word,” a letter written by Mawmaw to all of us.

She asked us not to be sad, because she was at peace. She spoke of her life and how thankful she was for those who shared it with her.

She thanked us for being blessings to her while she was alive.

And she let us all know how much she loved us.

But we knew already.

She told us every single day of her life.


Billy Bruce is a freelance writer who lives in Pedro. He can be contacted at hollandkat3@aol.com.