Sources of Joy - Inspirational Thoughts by Arlene Luell- Stephan
In 2002, my Grandma Arlene put a book together that contained a variety of writings she has done over the years. From her memories of times at Loon Lake to her love of picking wild flowers to life lessons learned by riding her bike - Grandma left this precious book for us all to be inspired by. The title alone is inspiring to think about one's life and what are your own sources of joy.
My Grandma Arlene passed away on Friday, May 23, 2014 at the age of 82. Family and friends have been digging out their own copies of Sources of Joy and reading Grandma's writings. In one story called "From Sunrise to Sunset", Grandma writes, "Life should be full of love - the main ingredient of living - love of God, love of family, love of nature, love of people." This is truly how my Grandma lived out her life. Such a loving soul who could make a new friend anywhere and everywhere she went. She never forced her religious beliefs onto anyone, but rather lived her life as an example: Love each other.
For such a special Grandma, we tried to find ways to honor her life through her visitation and funeral - however, Grandma was still trying to take care of us and had left a very detailed folder of how she wanted everything to be in case of her death. From the type of flowers on her casket to the type of food after the funeral service - little sandwiches, Jell-O and cake (such a Lutheran :o).
What Grandma didn't have planned out was for my cousins and I to read from her book. Amy, Renee and I sat down and picked various quotes and stories to read aloud. I'm so glad my cousin Renee suggested this, because it added just about 10 minutes to the funeral service. When the service was over and we walked out of the church and the elementary school across the street was on their lunch recess, which may not have been happening had we not done the readings. You see my Grandma Arlene was a school teacher in a variety of settings from Kindergarten, to Sunday School to story time at the library - so to hear the kids laughing and enjoying the warm spring sun, we all smiled ( and broke out in tears) because it was just the perfect background sound as we said our last good byes to Grandma.
My Grandma Arlene had such a deep love for the sunrises and sunsets.
On the day of her funeral, I was awaken suddenly around 4 am and felt the urge to watch the sunrise. I'm so glad I did and captured the picture - I truly believe it was Grandma letting us know that she was in heaven and smiling down on us. In a special letter she wrote she tells us it's okay to be sad but only for a little while. She wants us to continue to find our own Sources of Joy and to love each other.
Grandma Arlene was a very special woman that I will be forever grateful to call her my Grandma.