Erma Marie Gillies Madsen  11/05/1918 - 08/08/2013

Erma Marie Gillies Madsen
11/05/1918 – 08/08/2013





















The death of my Grandmother this past week has influenced many of my thoughts as of late. It’s not so much her passing that i’m hyper focused on, but I’ve been more enamored by her long life, her influence and how different we all view death.

Upon receiving word of my Grandma’s passing I began connecting with some of my long lost cousins through social media. One of them was reaching out about collecting photos for a slideshow that they would have during the viewing portion of the funeral. I immediately volunteered to edit the video together for the family.

Over the next few days the photos began to pour into a dropbox folder that I had set up. There were photos from her as a child fishing near Beaver, Utah where she was born, her 65 years married to my Grandfather and many of her living at our aunt’s house over the past few years. My favorites were the old black and white photos. I’m a sucker for history. The experience of editing and creating this 20 minute video was priceless. I can’t think of a better way to honor my Grandma and her nine decades on planet earth.

Saturday was her funeral. I made the 45-minute drive north to a Mormon chapel where the service was to be held. It was a nice building and I remember going there as a young man with my family when we visited our relatives that lived two streets over and were members of the congregation. 29 of the 32 grandchildren were present — her influence on each and every one of us apparent as we gathered in a room to view her and say our last goodbyes.

I spent much of my time at the service thinking about the impact each person has on another — my Grandma in particular. In situations like this one, it is impossible not to recognize the reach and magnitude of one person’s legacy on hundreds if not thousands of people that they came in contact with during their life. The stories that were shared during the service revealed a women that was consistent in her attitude towards life and one that never let hardship tear her down or stop her forward motion. She used to say, “Just get it out and get on with it.”

By the time I was driving to the cemetery I was at peace with the situation. Any feeling of loss had morphed into some sort of thankfulness and admiration towards my Grandmother. This was accentuated by the fact that as I began walking towards the gravesite I could hear bagpipes playing. My Grandma’s maiden name is Gillies, which is Scottish and this seemed like a fitting way to honor that heritage.

I wrote a few words while I was standing there.

The strong scent of fresh cut flowers
Bagpipes echoing off the headstones
Calm and cool
Overcast and quiet
Young children unaware
Family tightly holding

Thanks for checking in. And let’s not forget to, “just get it out and get on with it.”




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