The Legacy of My Grandma, Bertella Swain Aldridge + An Addition to the Barrow Family + A Surprise

My grandma's obituary: 1933 ~ 2013
Our beloved Mother and Grandmother, Bertella Swain Aldridge, age 80, passed away comfortably in her home in American Fork, Utah on April 12, 2013 from natural causes. After being blind for almost 40 years and suffering many health problems, her family rejoices knowing that she is now at peace and reunited with her sweetheart of nearly 60 years. Bertella was born in American Fork, Utah on March 6, 1933. She spent most of her childhood in the Uintah basin and she graduated from Roosevelt High School in 1951. While attending Brigham Young University, she met W. Everett Aldridge. They were soon married in the Salt Lake City temple on December 18, 1953. Together they raised their family in Richmond, VA where Everett practiced dentistry for nearly 50 years. Her greatest joy in life was being the mother to her daughter and seven sons. She is survived by her children LaRetta (Buddy) Barrow, Brian (Mindy), Kevin, Jeff (Annette), Joe (Lisa), David (Frances), Eric (Pam), Mark (Stacy); 28 grandchildren and 18 great grandchildren and two brothers, Clark (Eleanor) and Keith (Karma) Swain. She put others first her whole life and sacrificed everything for her children. Her faith helped her endure to the end. Her favorite calling in the church was teaching in the relief society for nearly 20 years, despite her blindness. She longed to be closer to a temple and when she moved to Utah in 2006, she was able to go often and this brought her much joy. The family wishes to thank her friend and nurse Leena who took such loving care of her and the wonderful nurses at Freedom Home Health for their support and tenderness. They also want to express gratitude to her extended family and friends for the service rendered to her the last days of her life.

She had an 80th birthday celebration about a month before she passed.  These were some of the words she said when she was asked for some last words of wisdom.  A lady was kind enough to type what she could understand.  "We should be like the Savior, holding fast to our testimony - firm and stalwart in the Gospel in loving everyone, even a sinner.  Be friends with everyone and help everyone feel welcome that is standing firm for what it right; keeping our commitments, our temple covenants, and others.  That is my advice, and I leave prayers for each of you that we might all be with the Savior together and realizing that He will be there in Heaven, so be prepared."
I think I was about 3 in this picture.
She was singing a story in this picture.  I wish I could remember what she said.  It was really funny.
My thoughts about my grandma: Since her passing, I have been able to reflect on her legacy that she left behind and what kind of legacy I want to leave behind for my family and friends. I am so thankful for her love, pride, and joy of her family...kids, grandkids, and great grandkids! Without fail, she never missed calling everyone on their birthday. I grew to look forward to her phone call at some point in the day of my birthday. I remember, when I was little, getting typed letters from her and thinking it was so cool that she was able to type using a typewriter being blind. She also knew everyone's addresses too. Since she was blind and not able to write anything, she spoke in to a tape recorder and everyone's information like our birth date (even our spouse's) with our address. (I learned lots of patience with trying to give her my address or just talk to her on the phone because she couldn't hear well either so I would have to keep repeating myself. Sometimes, when I would call she would think I was Amy...actually a lot of the time. She'd say,"Who? Is this Amy?" Oh well. It was kind of funny.) I was so impressed with how hard she worked to keep up with everyone and with how much effort she put in to getting everyone together as much as possible. Besides looking forward to her phone calls on my birthday, I looked forward to getting something from Deseret Book (a church bookstore) for Christmas. Her love for the Lord and for the gospel was clearly evident! She had tons of church tapes and cd's (music, General Conference, informative speakers, and more). She served wherever she could in her ward.  We all were encouraged from her to marry in the temple and have a family.  When I think about how hard she worked to keep everyone strong in the gospel, it makes me feel so thankful for her.  Even though she had so many physical ailments (severe asthma, allergic to many medicines and cleaning supplies, ticdelarue, neuropathy, osteoporosis, bunions, sphincter problems, plus blindness for 37 years), she never let it stop her from doing what she needed to do throughout her life.  Until the funeral, I didn't realize how much humility she had to have had to need help with a lot of things because of her blindness.

Since I got to Utah early in the week, my mom, Uncle Eric, and I were able to see my grandma at the mortuary.  Eric wanted to see her so we went over to the mortuary between running errands.  I was able to be in the room with her by myself.  I thought it would be a little hard to see just her body but it really wasn't at all.  It was a actually a great experience.  I was able to think of her more as a spiritual being and so happy that she was rid of the body she was in.  I saw a body that was worn out from enduring lots of trials and from the work of continuing to teach her family the importance of LIVING the gospel.  When I first got the news that she passed away, the first feeling I felt was joy because I know she is in a much better place and I know she can finally see the faces of her family!  As I was in the room, all I could say to her was, "thank you!"

Tuesday morning, while we were gone, Scott and Tracey had their 2nd baby and my parents' 12th grand baby!  My mom and dad, Amy, and I hated that we were in Utah and not anywhere close to being able to visit them and the baby!  I am so happy for them!  They tried and tried for a long time, and now she has finally come to their family!  I like to think that my grandma gave her a big hug before Heavenly Father sent her to earth to finally be with her family!  :)
Kennedy Elizabeth Barrow

Tuesday afternoon, all of my aunts, my mom, Amy, my mom's cousin Rachel, and my mom's Aunt Karma were able to have the sacred experience of helping to dress her body in her temple clothes.  Before we started, we all gathered in a circle around her, held hands, and said a prayer.  Each person got to help in some way.  After we finished dressing her, we gathered in a circle again and we were each able to share a few things that we loved and cherished about her.  The whole experience is something I will never forget.
My Uncle Eric was just so sweet to Eden!
My Aunt Lisa (Uncle Joe's wife) and her daughter, Kimberly, with Eden.  (All my little cousins kept wanting to hold Eden.  Every now and then during the viewing one of them would come up to me and ask if it was their turn.)
Aunt Pam (Uncle Eric's wife) with Amy and me.
Amy, Aunt Lisa, Krista (Uncle Brian and Aunt Mindy's 4th daughter), Aunt Pam, me, Aunt Annette (Uncle Jeff's wife), and Kimberly.

Such a happy baby!

Aunt Pam, Amy, and I after the Tuesday night viewing.

Wednesday morning was the funeral with a little get-together with just the family beforehand.  It was so nice being able to see relatives that I haven't seen in years.  The only two good things about funerals is that you get to be reunited with family and friends and celebrate the person that passed.  My grandma had a beautiful funeral.  She wanted her older grandkids to sing The Spirit of God and her younger grandkids and great grandkids to sing Families Can Be Together Forever.  I couldn't help but tear up while we were singing our song just thinking about my grandma being so proud. 
My mom and her brothers and...wait...my cousin Brandon.  [He didn't realize it was just a siblings picture.  ;)]
All the Aldridge siblings: from left to right - Jeff, Eric, Brian, Eric, Joe, Kevin, David, and my mom
Uncle Eric, Brent, Megan, and my dad
Megan, me, Amy, and Megan's daughter, Grace.
Some of us Barrows.
Brent actually (sometimes he's not always looking at the camera) had a pretty good smile.  My dad had him say, "Obama!" after 3...brought a smile to his face.  ;)
Aunt Pam and Uncle Eric
Amy and I with Uncle Jeff
Megan, me, Amy, and Megan's daughter, Grace.
Uncle Brian, Aunt Mindy with Krista and Marissa's family (husband, Eric, and kids:  Keira, Brian, Kaley, and Aaron, aka Bo)

Me, Marissa, Amy,  and Krista
Uncle Kevin with my mom.

My mom and Aunt Mindy (Brian's wife)
After the funeral and visiting with family until the evening, Amy and I drive up to Layton to spend the night with Megan and then hang out with her sisters the next day just hanging out at their house.  I sure did love hanging out with them!  I forgot how funny they all are.  It was almost like a laugh a minute with them.  Too bad we don't live even a little close.

From left to right:  Monica (with Olivia and Harper), Megan (with Walker and Grace),  Me (with Eden), Amy (with Melanie's daughter Lila), and Melanie (with Ally...missing her other two - Elle and Peyton)
We can't just take one picture!

Later, in the evening, we ALL (the Watson girls, Brian and Mindy, Marissa and her family, and Jeff and Annette with their two sons) went out to eat at The Pizza Factory.  It was great to get together one more time before we left and
I love this picture!  Didn't my mom realize that her face wouldn't fit in that tiny hole?  ;)
Edie with her Big Daddy!
Marissa and her 4th child, Aaron, just two months apart from  Eden,.
Melanie and I

It was kind of fun to ride from Salt Lake City to Houston (our connecting flight) with my parents!  What wasn't fun was having my plane from Houston to Midland cancelled because of "weather" so I had to stay the night in Houston.  It was at least nice of the airline to give me a $30 voucher for food at the airport and a hotel voucher, but I got to see my Uncle David and Aunt Francis one more time since they live in Houston.  David picked me up and felt safer with me staying at his house instead of me going to a hotel.  He's so funny.  He wanted to call my mom to know what was best for me, even though I am a grown woman.  It was really nice of him to pick me up and bring me back the next morning.  He wanted to give me $20 in case I didn't have enough money for food at the airport...too nice!
Playing at the airport with Big Daddy!

Playing with GiGi on the plane!

After being at the airport for two days, I got picked up from the airport in a new car! Mike surprised me by going by calling the dealership in Austin on Tuesday, having them change the seats to leather, and then driving down to Austin to get the car on Thursday! I can't believe he got it so fast! I knew we were going to get a car some time this year just not this soon! I couldn't believe it. It was such a surprise and so cool of him to surprise me with it. I have a such a great husband! He works so hard for our family and wants to provide all that he can for us! I am so thankful for him!
My new 2012 Toyota Sequoia!