A Look Back on The Life of Arlene Anderson

My grandma spend her last Christmas with us this year. She was here and then she was gone. She learned she had cancer and within about two weeks…she was gone. I could fill pages about my experiences with her. She was like a second mom to me. She lived with us since my birth. Below is the “eulogy” my dad gave at her graveside service.

arlene anderson

I want to spend a few minutes sharing some thoughts and memories about a very special woman, Arlene Anderson….a great grandmother, grandmother, mother and daughter of God.

I know she is excited to see her family here today and at the same time she wouldn’t want any fuss to be made about her. She liked to keep a low profile, but she had a real zest for life and no immediate plans for moving on.. As Gregory and I were giving her a blessing after she came home from the hospital with the news that she did not have long to live, she remarked “I didn’t think I would ever be in this position, how did this happen”? This from a someone almost 90 years old. Gregory lovingly responded..”Well what were you thinking…that you would just be translated?”  She was blessed with living a long, productive life right up to just a few weeks before passing on…..driving, interacting, enjoying her doggies.

You know, real special Celebrities and superstars many times come to be known by a single name. Some easily come to mind such as Oprah, Kobe, Pele, Pink, Magic and so on. Well this special woman was so much better, so much more of a superstar that she came to be known simply as “G”

G was born a long time ago……November 8, 1925 to be exact. She lived a long and relatively healthy life. She definitely had a zest for life, even though she maintained a relatively quiet and private lifestyle. As such, not many people outside her close circle knew of her many talents.

She was an accomplished seamstress, quite an athlete in high school and college, a cake decorator, a very creative Holiday decorations maker, who was regularly called on to help decorate holiday events. She was recognized many times for her direction of Church Roadshows.

She was a really good cook. I used to love her Sunday classic roast dinner. It was a tradition for many, many years.

Did you know that G served an honorable mission for the Church in the state of New York? I wish I had asked her more about that.

After a marriage cut short, she devoted herself to raising her three young children. This perhaps was her greatest achievement….being a single mother, supporting herself by working in the Church Educational System as a secretary, and raising these three spirits (Craig, Carolyn and Cynthia). I am certainly not the best person to know all of the many, subtle sacrifices that she made to give her children a good life, but they will tell you she did just that.

Cynthia and Carolyn both remarked that she always seemed to be happy and positive and interested in their lives, curious to know what was happening….this was pretty much the same way with all of her grandkids as well.

She was well known and loved by all of the many Institute of Religion students that cycled through the Institute while they were in college.

She loved to laugh and joke around, but she was always gracious and sharp as a tack. In her last few days, when it was hard for her to speak, she would still always say thank you to Cyn, Care, Chels and all of the nurses for taking care of her. Cynthia was so concerned for her mom. She did not want her to be scared or feel alone. As G faced the final piece of her journey of this world she was definitely not alone. She received the same loving 24/7 care that she had given her children so many years ago. This is what family is all about.

She is survived by her 3 children: Craig, Carolyn and Cynthia;

her 10 grandchildren: Kevin, Scott, Christopher, Jeffrey, Erica, Elyise, Alex, Marissa, Gregory and Chelsea, and her great grandchildren:

Pretty much each of you here today have some unique, special memories about G tucked away in your own mind and heart. These memories likely have common threads……

A loving, caring, consistent, strong-willed, witty, independent, generous, happy, curious friend

Full of dignity and integrity.

I would like to share just a few personal memories, comments from grandkids, and some “G” isms that were unique to her that we came to be used to, to give her a hard time about, to laugh about and now to treasure dearly. There are so many more, probably many that each of you remember and treasure, but these jumped out at me as I was thinking back to many years spent with her. Perhaps you will relate to some of these tidbits.

STORIES AND COMMENTS:

STORY: HER DOGS

She loved her dogs. When I first met Cynthia and would go over to her house around dinner time, G would be cooking steak for her little daschunds (they all seemed to be named Oscar). We’re talking real beef, from the butcher, cut up into small bites, grilled to a nice well done. Pretty tasty, I might add as I stole from the pan ( I’ll bet Craig did too.) Well anyway, this food fetish for her dogs continued on her life. Two petite little dogs we inherited about 10 years ago, a Chi Wawa and a Pomeranian…you know, small dogs. Well……she was kinda in charge of the dogs being that she was there with them all day long….she would feed them whatever she was eating. So those of you who have seen the dogs know what im talking about. She was defiant in her desire to love them by feeding them.

Cynthia would reprimand her…you can’t feed the dogs so much. ”Are you feeding them again”? she would ask. No! comes the answer…or I won’t feed them anymore! But then she would go right back to feeding them . Suffice to say, they have been starving lately.

STORY: ROAD TRIPS

G loved to travel when she could. In the old days, she organized trips to the beach and also took a few longer trips to Northern California …….San Francisco, Oakland. Cyn and Carolyn remember going with her to San Francisco in a car that leaked oil so much that they had to stop every 100 miles to refill more oil. She like to stay at the Boatel Motel in Oakland…I went on one of the trips with her and Cyn, and she took us to the vistors center at the Oakland temple, which I think was my first visit to a church temple.

G continued her little road trips throughout her entire life (of course they got a little shorter as she got older). She would take her daily drive to the mail box and then to a drive thru to get her lunch and bring back home to eat (including the dogs). She did this right up to about a month ago. No one was going to take her keys away.

STORY: PART OF THE ACTION

Even in her advanced years, she always wanted to be part of the action. If it was quiet in the house, she would be content to be in her room watching tv…..but as soon as some action started up, people talking , or some activity starting up, she would wander out so she could see what was going on, add in some comment and enjoy the company. We used to watch Lakers basketball games on Sunday evening after dinner, usually on a recorded delay, and she would love to come out and threaten to blurt out the outcome, because she had already watched the game live. She loved to be involved.

COMMENTS: ERICA

“She has made her two daughters into the most amazing women / mothers.   Because of her, I am where I am today. Her example has trickled down to her posterity and will continue to live on. She is at peace now. I can’t wait to see her again. But I know she is happy right now.”

COMMENTS: GREGORY – A LETTER WRITTEN TO G

“You have been like a second mom to me. How great it’s been to have you AND mom to help raise me up. You guys have taught me so many things. We have had so much fun together and you have been such a huge part of my life. For a time…it was just us three. We used to go to Ken’s everyday and get a cheese sandwich. I still love cheese sandwiches.

If you can’t remember anything else from your life…you need to know how impactful you were in my life during some critical years. I remember you pulling me into your room to talk to me about your mission

Everything that I’m doing right now…you’ve influenced. You’re influence is being felt in the four corners of the earth through my mission, my blog, and through the power of the Holy Ghost.

“G” ISMS

  1. She would go and stand at the front door every night and call the cat in that familiar soprano voice….”Tyson – kitty, kitty, kitty!” We had a blast trying to imitate her.
  1. Every night she would come out to where someone was and announce……”I’m going to bed now”   “see you in the morning!” frequently she would do this multiple times before actually going to bed.
  1. Trim….there’s something wrong with my TV…it wont work!   (usually because she pressed a wrong button)
  1. We used to say that she would have “potato with her butter” instead of the other way around. She loved potatoes, but she really lover her butter more! She also broke most rules for healthy eating and it seemed she reveled in the rebellion of it all.
  1. She had a favorite phrase which she would repeat often, especially when someone was having a rough time. Cynthia remembers that most every time she and Chelsea would leave the house to go somewhere, G would say:

“Be of Good Cheer” and I’m sure that many of you here have heard that phrase from her at one time or another.

I finish my comments today with the full version and origin of the phrase and it is especially meaningful for us on this day. This is what she would want us to know from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The verses are found in D&C 61:36-37

36 And now, verily I say unto you, and what I say unto one I say unto all, be of good cheer, little children; for I am in your midst, and I have not forsaken you;

37 And inasmuch as you have humbled yourselves before me, the blessings of the kingdom are yours.

She was a great woman who is so missed today, but will surely be loved and remembered forever.

I share these thoughts and comments with you in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.


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