Grandma Lois Erickson passed away this early morning, peacefully in the hospital, at age 91. She used to send a letter every Christmas to all of the family members and I decided to read through some of those again. She bears such a powerful testimony in each one; here are a few:
I want each of you to know that I have a strong testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He is our Savior and Redeemer. I know He lives, as does our Heavenly Father. I am grateful for the Atoning sacrifice that Christ made for us. I know that Joseph Smith restored the gospel of Jesus Christ with help from the Lord, and that President Gordon B. Hinckley is our living prophet today.
My life has been full of exciting moments and wonderful memories, and the best part of all is our Family. "We" [as in Grandpa Erickson and herself] love each one of you unconditionally, and I constantly pray that your lives are happy and meaningful. May you raise your families to love and serve each other as the Savior taught. I know that God lives, Jesus Christ lived, died, and was resurrected that we might live again. His atoning sacrifice was made for you and me, and He wants us to be "as He is". I'm grateful that our ancestors accepted the gospel, and knew Joseph Smith who restored the gospel, of Jesus Christ, and translated the divine Book of Mormon with divine assistance. My testimony is very precious to me. I love each and every one of you!
Most important to us [she says "us" to include Grandpa Erickson, who passed away a while ago] IS our FAMILY! [Don't you love the caps? ;)] You are our Most Valued Treasure! Please follow President Monson, our prophet, and his admonitions to live good lives at all times, trust in the Lord, pray often together, watch your children constantly, keep them close, avoid all evil temptations, keep your homes sacred, go often and honor your Temple. WE LOVE YOU DEARLY AND LOOK FORWARD TO ETERNAL LIFE WITH EACH ONE OF YOU!
Haha, I just love the capitalized letters!
She always LOVED music. I can't even tell you how much! Almost as soon as she moved into her retirement home, she started a choir. And even when she couldn't stand and had to sit the whole time, she continued to conduct it. She is one whom you would say had a passion for music. Her aunt was Naomi Randall, whom LDS people know as the lyricist for "I Am a Child of God" and other hymns. In one of Grandma's letters she wrote:
"In the 1985 LDS Hymnal, page #128 is 'When Faith Endures' by Aunt Naomi W. Randall. This hymn is a favorite of mine, and has seen me through some difficult times. It is constantly on my mind:
'I will not doubt, I will not fear:
God's love and strength are always near,
His promised gift helps me to find
An inner strength and peace of mind.
I give the Father willingly
My trust, my prayers, humility;
His Spirit guides, His love assures
That fear departs when faith endures.'"
Grandma says that there were other verses that Naomi wrote that were not published, but that the First Presidency accepted a second verse and it was sung at Naomi Randall's funeral. Here is most of it (I'm not putting all of it because it's under copyright):
"When trials come as come they will
I'll try the more to do His will,
I'll pray for strength and courage strong
And strive at length to right the wrong.
I'll cling to hope, give charity,
Reach out to those in need of me.
Grandma said, "This hymn is very dear to me, and I sing it often to myself. It has helped me through many trials and challenges".
Grandma Erickson has had multiple falls. I think that she was such an independent woman that she didn't see why her body couldn't keep up with her mind and heart! This last fall brought her to the hospital. It seemed like she knew that she would be going soon. She told her children that her last goal was to get to rehab and she reached that goal yesterday, the day before she died.
Many people, if they knew it was their time to go, would give up. They would think, "I'm leaving this world, so why does it matter?" But not Grandma Erickson. She was a woman of determination. And she lived a full life to the last breath.
Even when Grandma was not doing well, she came to Adaline's baby blessing! It was a shock to see her there and I knew she did it completely out of love. She said that she had to come for her fellow red-head. (Grandma was a carrot-top and Addie has reddish hair.) She was a remarkable woman, full of love and determination. We will miss her!