Monday, May 3, 2010

Wanda P. Tenney, Flying Home

As I was typing this post about my Grandma, we got a call from my Aunt Diana, and my parents went over to be with Grandma in her final moments. She passed away peacefully, Tuesday, May 4th, 2010 just a little before 12:30 in the morning.
Wanda P. Tenney is my grandmother. She's such a beautiful person inside and out. I can't even describe the way I feel about her, except for saying that she's celestial. If ever there was a heaven on earth, it was because Grandma made it so, and taught us that love conquers ALL.
She just turned 96 in March, and has been steadily declining in health. It is her time to go. She gets to die the way everyone wishes they would die--peacefully, soundly, and at a ripe old age. Actually, Grandma has been "waitin' to die" for several years now, but generally speaking, her upcoming death is something that is unlike any other death I've experienced of a loved one. We know she's going, and we know how she's going to go, and there's nothing awful about it--it's just another step onto the next adventure. She's so ready to meet up with Grandpa, her parents, her siblings, her daughter and every other loved one waiting for her for a grand reunion on the other side.
This picture was taken last Thursday, the 28th of April. It was the last time I saw Grandma smile at me. I went over to her house to fix her hair--we've had a theory that maybe Grandpa would come and get her and they'd fly off towards the moon together. I thought that sounded romantic, and the full moon was coming up, and Grandma's health was declining. I went over to her house a few times last week and curled her hair JUST IN CASE that was the night she would have her date with Grandpa; I wanted her to be ready. In reality, though, doing her hair is more beneficial for me than it is to her. I sure love being around her. She was so cute, because one day she was hardly responding, and the next day, she was perky & smiling. This same day I had a special experience in her room. Aunt Diana had to leave and I ended up being the only one in the house with Grandma. She fell asleep and I got to hold her hand and say a prayer thanking the Lord for the best Grandma I could ask for, and to express my love for her and for all of the angels who tend her side, and to express my desire to live a life that emulates her example. It was a tender moment in time and I'm lucky I got to share those moments with her as I got to bask in the wonderful Spirit that filled her room. We all believe that her room has been filled with angels on the other side. Without a doubt I believe in angels. I personally felt the presence of my Grandfather a couple times, and my Aunt Amanda, and my Great Grandparents. My father had thoughts about my Grandma's brother, Alma, who died when he was 5. We can't see the angels, but we believe full heartedly that they were there, and that they love Grandma as much as we do.
Grandma used to call me Debbie-Jo-Jo. She was the only one in the world who could call me that--I am Debra Jo to everyone else, but Grandma can call me Debbie-Jo all she wants. I miss that, already.
This picture is of grandma with her curled hair. : ) Let me tell you: a curling iron is SO MUCH EASIER than rollers! I couldn't handle the rollers, so my dad gave me $20 and I ran to the store to buy her a curling iron. It's a basic cheap one, but it did the trick!...and it's pink. : ) I went again today to curl Grandma's hair and she was snoring through it the whole time. I know time is close. She didn't even stir when we talked to her, today.

Taken the Friday, the 22nd, as we were getting ready for the sibling dinner for Grandma, where all of her children gathered and shared loving memories as a good-bye tribute.

Tyson & Kolby playing (my cousin, Liana's youngest son)

I want Tyson to always remember that he was a helpful little guy and did something for his Great-Grandma Tenney as he helped in the yard that day.

He also discovered a new way to store toys that day--so resourceful!

Spending time with Grandma has led me to ponder on her life, and pull out these wonderful pictures. This is her father & mother, Joseph and Amanda (Andelin) Peterson. I think Amanda is beautiful.

Grandma at about 18 months

A rare photo of Wanda with her mother, Amanda (on the left), before she died.

Wanda with her doll shortly after her mother died (she loved dolls and has left at least one with all of her grandchildren). This one makes me cry to think that after 90 years, she will get to see her mother's face again, soon. How difficult it must be for a child to lose their mother, and yet, Grandma never talks about how hard things are as much as she talks about HOW to get through them. Faith, hope, love, eternal perspective...TRUST in the Lord, and in all things say "thy will be done."
Wanda at about 6 years old. I LOVE this picture. She was so playful, and I see so many of her children in her face.

Wanda with her new Christmas doll. At Christmas in 2002, Grandma spent Christmas with our family, and she gave Erin, Jodi, and I porcelin dolls that looked like ourselves. Such precious & prized possesions to have those dolls from her.

On the right is Grandma's step mother, who also happens to be related to my mother. Cool, huh!
My Great Grandma Lydia, whom I never met, but whom my father adores.

Grandma is so beautiful. I love this picture (and the ones posted later). I believe this is what my grandmother will look like when I get to see her face again. She will have a glorified, celestial, resurrected body, free of ailments and wrinkles, and she will look like a queen.

I love that Grandma loved to take pictures. One of her many nicknames was Grandma Kodak because she was always sporting a camera. I love that she loved life and living and always wanted to remember the people she met and the places she went. We have a great history recorded, thanks to her pictures.


Wanda graduated from NAU. This is her college graduation photo. Sometimes I have wondered if my own college education was worth it...ie, worth the student loans I'm still paying back, but looking at this picture I am decided--it was worth it, because I want to be like Grandma in every possible way I can be like her, so it WAS worth it. Did you know she played clarinet, too? I have never thought it was a coincidence that she AND grandpa played clarinet. I never knew why I was inclined to play that instrument until I found out that my grandparents did, too. I think maybe in heaven, before I came to earth, I was watching & already wanted to be like them. You never know. : )

This is my 2nd favorite picture of Grandpa--apparently it was taken on his mission to Samoa. My 1st favorite is one that is popular in the family, but I couldn't find it in my archives. It's the one of him hanging his head out the window of his car and smiling like he was picking up Grandma for a date or something. I think he's one of the most handsome men in the world. I also think that my cousin, Clay, looks almost exactly like some of my Grandpa's pictures sometimes.


Wanda & Lewis Tenney Sr. on their honeymoon--SLC capitol building

Wanda & Lewis on a picnic

I don't know when this was taken, but I think she looks gorgeous.

I found this picture of Grandma & Grandpa and all their kids. I love it. Actually, Bill & Warren are missing from it, and so is Amanda, but I think they all look great.



This is a picture of Grandma when she retired from teaching. I LOVE that I'm a teacher, too. I told you I really wanted to be like her! One of the stories she told me when I was talking to her on the phone during my first year of teaching, was about a time when she was teaching elementary school and there was a pandemic, or epidemic--some sort of illness going around, and EVERYONE had to wear masks over their mouths and noses. Well, apparently, there was a little girl who was new and had never seen her teacher, Wanda, without her mask off. When the health inspector, or nurse came in to inform my Grandma that it was over & they could remove their masks, Grandma removed it and that new little girl exlaimed: "Miss Peterson! You look so much better with your mask on!" I still get a good laugh out of that story--sometimes kids are brutally honest, and it's just so funny.

This is my dad. Wasn't he a cute baby? He was named after my Great Grandpa Peterson (Wanda's Dad), and my grandma always called him, "Sunny Boy". I named my son, Emmett Joseph, and gave him his middle name after my Dad.

My Uncle Ambrose & My Dad (foster brothers)

Grandpa & Grandma at my parents' wedding

I have been longing to find a picture of me as a kid with Grandma in it, too. I don't know when or where this was taken, but I was just a baby. There's Uncle Lewis & Aunt Mary, Me & my Dad, Grandpa & Grandma

My dad dancing with Grandma at a reunion


Family Reunion about 1998 or so



They're so cute!

This picture is so fitting. This is how I remember my Grandma & Grandpa. He was always wearing that bolo tie thing. : ) This is also the picture I would look at when I'd fix her hair to help her get ready for her "date" with Grandpa.
Wanda P. Tenney, Debra Jo Tenney, Carlene McCleve Parham
When I participated in the Gilbert Junior Miss Pageant, I was lucky enough to get to have both grandmas come and support me. I have the best family!

At Grandma's 90th Birthday Party, I was invited to play the 5th Nocturne for Grandma. It was a special honor to play it for her. I was told it brought her to tears as she remembered sitting at her sister, Leora's feet, listening to that song. I remember Grandpa and Grandma coming to our house on Redfield Rd. and they would bring me music to play. I learned Claire de Lune and Heart Tones for Grandpa, and I learned Witches Flight, El Travatore, and 5th Nocturne for Grandma. Grandpa always told me that I played better than the famous Liberache. He's so cute. I have had special experiences playing those songs and meditating at later times after Grandpa's passing.



Grandma at her 90th birthday--she was a young 90. She inspires me to be healthy and take care of myself so that I can be a young and vibrant 90 years old someday, too.


My family with Grandma at her 90th birthday party


Wanda P. Tenney, you are a beautiful woman inside and out. I love that you are my grandma and I want to live my life like you have lived yours. I want to be close to the Lord always, I want to love, forgive, and cherish all the loved ones in my life. I want to remember the past and the way it builds my future. I want to live so that someday I can be where I know you are. Thank you for leaving me with a legacy of faith unmatched by any other I know. You and your faith in the Lord saved our family--we would not be so close and so strong without the way you helped bind us together with love and with the gospel. I know the gospel of Jesus Christ is true, and I want with all my heart to trust in the Lord and follow him so that I can have a forever family. Last Thursday I told you I loved you, and I will always remember the way you said, "And. I. Love. You." I will also remember the wayI got to curl your hair for the last full day of your life. I hope you felt as pretty as you could when you died, and I hope you felt ready for your date with Grandpa. I know he loves you and am sure he had something wonderful and special planned for your return home to Heaven. I hope you got to fly home with him, hand in hand, and I hope that meeting everyone in Heaven, and being around our Savior is something that is more glorious than you ever could imagine. We will miss you. We love you, Grandma!