Last week, two days after Christmas, we loaded up the minivan and took the kids to Williamsburg to visit with Sarah's family. Sarah's grandmother has been living there ever since she was a kid and in our ten years of marriage (plus a few years of dating), we had made many trips down there to visit. This time, however, we knew this was going to be a special trip. Nearly all of the family was coming in for a huge gathering. Sarah's family has at times literally been spread all over the world, but we were all (except for two family members who were unable to come) going to be together under the same roof for a big Christmas dinner party with Sarah's grandmother! Now, about her grandmother (or Grandma/Gaga/Teta/Great-Gaga as she is affectionately called). She recently turned 95 years old and had recently just moved into an assisted living facility. You heard that correctly, she was living on her own up until recently. And let me tell you, Grandma is one of those people who accomplished many amazing things with her life! I loved listening to her stories of teaching in the one-room school house. She also went on to become a pilot and traveled the world as the wife of a Commander in the Navy! Grandma and Grandpa (who passed away 8 years ago) raised 4 kids and there are now 8 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren.  And to top it all off, she was one of the sweetest, kind, and proper women I have ever met!

So we had our big dinner, exchanged gifts with everyone and shared warm conversations while the kids played with their cousins. One of the most amazing things for me, though, that I will never forget is that Grandma gave all of her great-grandkids one of the dolls from her prized antique doll collection! Sarah had told me many stories of how much she wanted to play with those dolls when she was a girl, but she knew they were way off limits!  We ended the evening with some photos and as I was taking them, I had a hunch these would turn out to be special memories. Lining people up for posed group shots is hardly my favorite thing to do, but oh, what special documentation we can create of generations together.

I know we will all cherish these photos below because our beloved Gaga passed away on Saturday morning, four days after being together with all the people she loved the most.

We will certainly miss seeing Grandma and hearing her stories of a full life, but we are so incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to spend one incredibly special evening with her and the family. And we are so grateful to have these photos to help us remember her sweet spirit.

I took this photo of Grandma at a wedding in August. This is one of our favorites because it truly shows her liveliness!!