Last night, my husband lost his maternal grandmother Viola Dopps. Her death was expected; although came too soon. Once it was revealed to her last week that cancer was taking her life, she made the decision to let go and let God.
As we get ready to celebrate her life, I couldn't help but stand back and be a witness to her accomplishments. I've only known Vi for 9 years, but have grown to admire her greatly.
Growing up I had this vision that large families meant distance. My mom was raised in a family of 6, and to support their family both of her parents worked. They did the best they could, but being away from the home meant her brothers and sisters raised each other. Over time my mom's family has slowly separated and become distant from one another. Everyone's doing their own thing, and moved to their own separate corners of the world. Family reunions are a thing of the past. Most of my cousins have wives and children I've never met. This type of family seemed like the norm to me. I wasn't sure how it was even possible to have large families and for parents to be able connect to each one of their children. There's only so many hours in a day, and for this reason, I'd always had it in my head that having any more than 2 (or 3 children tops!) was the right thing to do.
Until I met the Dopps.
Vi restored my hope in large families. With her husband Bruce, she raised 10 children (7 sons and 3 daughters) in a small home in Wichita, Kansas. I often try to imagine what Vi's life was like being born in the 1920's and raising children in the 1940's and 1950's. With her husband working to support his large family, she did amazing things to keep her family close; from starting the neighborhood general store in their backyard so she wouldn't have to work away from the home to instilling a love of Jesus in ALL of her children and creating that bond between them.
I'll never forget how I felt walking into a Dopps Family reunion for the first time while I was dating Tim. There were over 100 people in one room laughing, eating, and sharing stories. I was immediately welcomed in by his grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Since being married, we've gone on ski trips, attended weddings, funerals, birthdays, and showers. To this day it always catches me off guard how far his family members are willing to travel to be together. Even if that means buying a party bus to load everyone into! After Bruce passed away, Vi continued to make countless trips to Dallas to visit her daughters and grandchildren. To the end, she made an enormous effort to be in her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren's lives, and in doing so, they all wanted her in their lives as well.
With as many posts about her that I saw on my Facebook Feed this morning, I switched over to Twitter to see if #GrandmaVi might be trending.. It wasn't. But I bet it could be if the Dopps wanted it to be so! :)
I'm sad that the Little Man won't remember his great-grandma Vi, but he will have photos to remember her face. We can share our memories with him as we sit down to eat in our kitchen at what was once once her family's table. Which is actually where I'm writing this post. I also know that Vi's heart, love, kindness, and sense of family lives on in her daughter. My Little Man will be able to experience a piece of Vi through his Grandma Naomi. And for that I'm forever grateful!
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