A Sad Goodbye And A Good Riddance To 2020

Happy New Year, y’all! We made it. 2020 is officially in our rear view mirror, and I couldn’t be happier about that. But that dreadful year couldn’t just go quietly at the end. It took my grandmother — my last remaining grandparent — with it.

I’ve mentioned her several times before in previous posts, so those of you who have been around for a while may remember me writing about her. Her grandchildren called her Mernie. She was an amazing woman, a force of nature, and a huge influence on my life. This was her on her 104th birthday.

Mernie was born in 1912, and died last Tuesday, December 29, at the age of 108. It’s hard to even imagine everything she saw and experienced over her 108 years, having been born before indoor plumbing was common and outhouses were the norm, and before cars were common, and before most houses had electricity and were still being lighted with kerosene lamps and heated with wood stoves. She had such amazing and funny stories to tell of her childhood, dating my grandfather, and life in general over her 108 years.

People often ask me how I got into building and DIY and sewing and all of the other things I do, and both of my mom’s parents were a huge influence on my creative life. My grandfather, who we called Dad, had a workshop by their house filled with tools and projects he was working on. When I was little, I remember being amazed at all of the tools and the things he could make with them. He’d build furniture, decorative items, cabinets, etc. When I was probably in my early teen years, he taught me how to use his miter saw. I remember being terrified of it, but also thrilled with the experience. That was certainly the beginning of my interest in power tools.

Mernie’s areas of interest were more towards sewing, crocheting, and crafting. She was always making something and using her creativity in various ways. I have no doubt that her creative endeavors also had a huge influence on my as I was growing up. And of course, she passed her creativity on to my mom, who has always been a huge influence on me when it comes to anything creative and artistic.

But the reason Mernie was such a huge influence to me and everyone who knew her was because she was the most determined and courageous person I’ve ever known. I’ve told this story before, but I’ll tell it again.

Forty-seven years ago, Mernie and Dad were remodeling a bathroom in their house. The bathroom had a closet with a hot water heater in it, and just as they opened a can of some sort of solvent-based chemical, the hot water heater came on, and the vapors from the chemical caught on fire and trapped Mernie in the bathroom. Dad tried to pull her out, and ended up getting pretty badly burned. But Mernie got the worst of it. She ended up with third-degree burns over almost 60% of her body.

The doctors were convinced that she would not survive. They told the family that even if, by some miracle, she did happen to survive, she would basically be completely bedridden and helpless for the rest of her life, with no use of her legs, her arms, her hands, etc. She would be completely dependent upon others to take care of her 24/7.

Well, they clearly didn’t know who they were dealing with. As I said, she was the most determined woman I’ve ever known. She suffered through weeks and weeks of torturous treatment and therapy, and was in the hospital a total of three months. I happened to be born when she was in the hospital.

When she was released, the hospital issued her papers stating that she was totally and permanently disabled. Well, that made her mad, and she became determined to prove them wrong.

The morning after she was released from the hospital, she got up and cooked a big breakfast for her and my grandfather, and then she just kept going. About three years later, she was up on the roof helping to re-roof the house. She was simply NOT going to let anyone tell her what she couldn’t do, or what she wasn’t capable of doing. If someone told her she couldn’t, she was going to prove them wrong.

And that was how she lived her life. She had hardship after hardship, but her sheer determination and her unwillingness to wallow in self-pity, along with her unwavering faith in God, kept her going through thick and thin. And her determination was such a huge influence on so many people who knew her. I so wish all of you could have known her!

After my grandfather died, she continued to live by herself in their single-family house until she was 100. When she turned 100, she decided to sell her house and move into an apartment in a retirement center where she could still have her independence while not having to take care of a yard and all of the things that come with home maintenance. She was an awe-inspiring woman all around.

While it was incredibly sad to say goodbye to such an amazing woman, I couldn’t be more blessed to have been able to call her my grandmother. I’m so thankful for her 108-year legacy, and her 47 years of influence on me personally will live with me for the rest of my life.

So with that, I say good riddance to 2020. What a year, huh? It’s one that none of us will soon forget. No matter what life brings in this new year, I’m making a decision right now to face things head on, with sheer determination and grit, just like Mernie would do. Here’s to a new year, a fresh start, and renewed determination. I’m very excited to get back into the full swing of things, dive into some projects, and get back into DIY mode. I’ve got a lot planned for this year, and I’m excited to bring you along with me!

UPDATE: Mernie actually wrote an autobiography in 2011 called Seasons Of My Life, by Thelma Little. You can download it on Amazon for 99 cents. This version doesn’t have as many pictures, but the stories are the same. The hardback version is available on Lulu.com.



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  1. I’m so sorry for your loss. What a fantastic woman she was! You were so lucky to have her in your life and for such a long time. Keep your memories of her close to your heart and be comforted by the love of your family and friends. Hugs to you.

  2. So Sorry you have lost one so dear to you. Great tribute to that wonderful life she lived. Glad the new year is finally hear. Can’t wait to follow you into it!

    1. Dear Kristi and Family, I am so sorry for loss of your Mernie. She and your Grandfather sounded like amazing people. Although I am much older then you I also had fantastic Greandparents who were a permanent influence on my life. I. Think of them plus my parents everyday. Their lessons live on through me. What a wonderful gift we got by sharing time with them.

      1. I am so sorry for your loss but so happy about how extremely blessed you are by this strong, beautiful woman of God! Wow what a walk of faith and impact on the people around her. God bless you and may a beautiful part of her spirit live on in you. Your sharing is so inspirational.

    2. Saying goodbye is never easy no matter how long our loved ones are in our lives…..reading your thoughts as you say goodbye to Miss Mernie, I see how blessed you are. Love never goes away, it’s in your. Thinking about you as the new year begins.

      1. Kristi I am so sorry for the loss of your grandmother. She was such a beautiful and inspiring lady. You truly have family members that have lots of talent. I am always amazed at your talent. I have missed seeing your posts, and have been thinking of you a lot lately. Be strong and keep doing what you know to do. Thank you for the inspiring story.

        1. Mernie sounds like an amazing force of nature. You were so lucky to have her in your life. I can see now where you get your determined nature.

    3. I’m sorry she left you but what remains is forever in your heart. You are amazing due to the gifts she gave you. She is always in your heart.

  3. I don’t know the last time I read something so inspiring…Mernie was definitely one In a million and you certainly were blessed to be her grandchild. It’s so hard to lose those you love (been there) but, honestly, if the memories are good (mine are) it’s the best comfort, ever.

    1. So sorry for your loss. Your grandmother was truly an amazing women. You wrote a beautiful tribute to her. May she rest in peace.

  4. I’m so sorry for the loss of your precious grandmother. What a legacy she left. An incredible life ..amazing will to persevere. Thank you for sharing her story.

  5. What a great story-thanks for sharing. My grandfather fell off a silo and broke his back in his 40’s. He was not going to survive, leaving a wife and 6 children with a farm to keep going. Little did they know he hadn’t lived half his life yet. He died at 98.

  6. I always wondered where your talents and determination came from and now I know! What wonderful memories you shared of your grandmother. I’m sorry for your loss but hope those memories give you comfort.

    1. Deepest condolences to you and yours. Hopefully your memories will get you through the sadness.
      You have been blessed to have been surrounded by such inspiring family members.
      Rest in peace Mernie.

  7. God bless your grandmother and your family for losing her. May she rest in peace. She sounds like an incredible fireball. Reminds me of the spirit of my mom.

  8. Kristi, My condolences on the loss of your grandmother. What a full life she had. (and so happy your back!)

    1. Kristi,
      What an amazing woman ! Thank you for sharing. I believe she lives on in you 😊. The creativity and determination you show us all is truly amazing. Your posts are encouraging and bring me joy just to read and see the beautiful things you create.
      Even when those ‘mean girls’ comment you handle them with confidence and grace. I know Mernie is so very proud of the woman you have become 🤗

  9. What a beautiful tribute to your Grandmother. My grandmother was my best friend.
    I’m fortunate to have my mom at 97. Endulge yourself in your precious memories ❤️

  10. So very sorry for this huge loss. What a beautiful tribute to an amazing woman, How wonderful that you had a long relationship with her and your grandfather. Thank you for telling us about her. Very inspiring!

  11. Wow! God surely blessed her. So sorry to hear of your loss. She lived a full life and raised a good family – a life worth living! Make sure you smile along with those tears!

  12. Such a beautiful story of an amazing human. I know she will be missed but your memories will always be there! I love love love your ideas! Keep them coming! Hugs from Southeast Missouri!

    1. Kristi, I am deeply sorry for your loss. Mernie is such an inspiration. She is the kind of woman I want to be. Tough, wise, determined, creative, and gorgeous, inside and out. I am sitting here in tears reading your tribute to her. You shared her in such a way I feel I know her and I can imagine how deeply she will be missed. Loss is such a terrible thing to experience, but what a blessed day it will be when you are reunited in heaven. Until then, God bless you, your family, and may you still feel Mernie’s presence all around you.

  13. What a treasure she was and will continue to be through you and the skills she and your grandfather shared with you. You obviously have her determination. Carry that and her joy with you.

  14. How truly fortunate you have been to have such an amazing woman in your life for 47 years. Those of us lucky enough to have grandparents and great-grandparents who influence our lives are truly blessed. My grandmother was also a woman with grit and strength who did amazing things that were not the “norm” during her time.
    However, something changes when we loose the last grandparent. Its sad, of course, as would be expected but its also a true end to any part of childhood within us. So difficult to describe.
    Kristi, I am so sorry for your lose but glad you were so blessed with here. She will live on in you.

  15. What an amazing woman, and what an amazing inspiration for you! You obviously take after her in gumption and stick-to-it-tiveness, and she will be with you, encouraging and cheering you on, in whatever project you take on. Blessings to you and your mom and the rest of your family as you continue to tell her stories.

  16. She’s in heaven and having a great reunion and enjoying her mansion! She will greet all of the rest of her family someday! What a blessing to have had her.

  17. Grandmothers are a true gift from God. They love us in a way ;no other could.

    So sorry for your loss. I think that I might just see ALOT of her in you.

    Be blessed. She was amazing!

  18. Wow! I find myself feeling a little jealous not having met this woman! What a blessing to have her in your life for as long as you did! We, here on the blog, are blessed by the gifts she instilled in you and you now share with us. I’m sorry for your loss but so thankful you have such wonderful memories.

  19. Eternal rest grant unto her oh Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon her. May her precious soul Rest In Peace. Amen.

    CS Lewis put it best, we do not go through grief, grief goes through us. It cannot be “scheduled” or “planned” — it simply happens. May God’s Peace be with you and all those dear to her.

  20. I’m so sorry for your loss. What a beautiful lady with a wonderful soul. You were so blessed to have her in your life for such a long time.

  21. I loved your story about your great grandma. My dad was born in 1910. I was amazed at her longevity! Did she outlive her children? My great grandma died at 106 and outlived her 6 children. I often think of what people born early in the last century witnessed as change in the world. Is She from your mom’s side? I relate to your grandma, I was hanging drywall this past weekend and I am a woman 68 and hope to live many more decades. I’d love to hear more about her!

    1. My grandparents had two daughters — my mom and my aunt. Both are still alive and well. 🙂 My mom is 82, and my aunt is 79. My grandmother actually wrote an autobiography when she was 96. I’ll add a link to the bottom of the post. It’s available in hardback and as a downloadable version (Kindle).

  22. What a lovely tribute to your dear Mernie. She sounds like a true spitfire of a woman! I am so sorry for your loss, but you have gained so much from having her in your life. . . . . now you have an Angel! May the wonderful memories you made with Mernie embrace you with peace, and comfort and eventually with smiles and happiness of a life well lived.

  23. I’m so sorry to hear of the loss of your grandmother. 108 is an amazing number of years! You and I are very close to the same age and I am SO grateful my 93 year old grandmother is still alive, living in her own home (the only one I can ever remember her living in). She is just as determined as hour grandmother was and she is such an example to me. May your beautiful, loving, and long memories with her continue to give you joy and strength!!

  24. Kristi, I loved the story of your grandparents, and now we know where some of your talents and interests come from. Inherited or nurtured, they had an awesome influence on you. You are a tribute to them as well. Can you imagine the pride they had in you as you tackled things most of us would never think we could do. I lost my mom at 99, but if she was still alive she would now be 104. She and your grandma grew up around the same time, and I think grit and determination was part of that generation – they worked so much harder back then, and I’m sure the challenges were many. I have the utmost respect for that generation. God rest your beautiful grandma – she and grandpa are watching and loving you from heaven – keep making them so proud. You make all of us proud with your accomplishments. Sincere condolences to your mom and all the family. 💜

  25. Dear Kristi,

    I am so very sorry for your loss. She was an amazing, incredible woman. She lives on in you -remember always that you are amazing and incredible too – her gifts to you. Thank you for sharing her life with us. Blessings to you and your Family and deepest condolences.


  26. I’m sorry you had to give her up but happy for you in all the gifts she gave you. A loving special grandmother is such a wonderful blessing. Thank you for sharing stories about her and celebrating her life.

  27. Please accept my deepest condolences for the loss of your Grandmother. Thank you for sharing your memories of her with us. She must have been truly a great lady with incredible resolve to have faced all she did in her very long life. I hope your memories of her will bring you comfort. I’m so very sorry for your loss.

  28. My sympathy in losing your grandmother! Such a terrible year 2020 was. Thank you for sharing her life with us what an inspiration to us all!

  29. I’m so sorry–she sounds like an amazing, wonderful woman. I wish I could have known her as well! Thank you for sharing that story–so inspiring and encouraging. I love her grit and determination. :’-)

  30. I’m so sorry for the loss of your Mernie. The essence of her will live on through you. She sounds like someone I would have loved to have in my life, thank you for sharing your memories!

  31. Oh Kristi, it is deeply hard to lose such a loved one, but her legacy clearly lives on in you and, I daresay, others in Mernie’s family. May the new year bring comfort. Thank you for sharing with us.

  32. My sincere sympathies to you and your family. She certainly lived an amazing life and obviously was gifted with great determination. To God be the glory!

  33. I’m so sorry for you and your family’s loss. Gosh darn it, 2020!

    I wanna be like Mernie!! She is my new inspiration! That whole generation had to endure such hardships, but man, the determination and fortitude they had! Thank you for sharing her with us.

  34. My condolences to you and your family. Thank you for sharing your grandmother’s amazing story of courage and determination.
    Best wishes for 2021.

  35. My deepest condolences to you and all your family. Mernie was, and still is, quite the inspiration. You clearly have a lot of her in you.

  36. Thank you for sharing Mernnie’s story with us. It brings to mind the poem of Henry Van Dyke.

    Time is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice, but for those who love, time is eternity.

    May your family rejoice in Mernie’s life even as you grieve her loss.

  37. Kristi, I am so inspired reading the story of your grandmother’s exceptional life. What an incredible woman she was! Condolences to you and your family as you go through the days ahead.

  38. Mernie sounds like an amazing woman. Some cultures believe you die twice – first when your physical body dies and the second time is when nobody remembers you. Mernie will live on forever xx

  39. My sympathy, what a cherished and incredible woman. Your own memories and inspired attributes will bless and comfort you in the void she is leaving. I bet she was equally proud and adoring of you. May 2021 bless you in kind ways

  40. I am so sorry for the loss of your sweet Grandma. What an important role they play in our lives. I think your grandma and mine would have been great friends!! At least we both know that they are celebrating their faith in God and living in His presence!

  41. Wow, what a life indeed! I can hear the admiration And love in your words. What you have now are memories that will inspire and drive you for the rest of your days.
    Being adopted I fully realize just exactly what that kind of woman can mean in a younger woman’s life. I believe you knew that pretty early on. Your grandparents were wonderful people who shared what they knew and what they had.
    Like all people, good riddance to 2020!
    Looking forward to 2021 being a much better year for all humanity.
    I pray you peace for your loss. 🙏🏻

  42. I’m so sorry for your loss. I would have loved to know her. I just bought her book so I can enjoy some stories! I wish you a happy 2021!

  43. As others have said, she is living on in you and in all those who knew her. What a strong, determined woman! I’m glad you had her for so many years and sorry that her physical presence is gone.

  44. I’m so sorry for your loss. What a wonderful legacy she left for you. She looked beautiful in the pictures, more like in her 70’s than in her 100’s. I just purchased her book on Amazon. I love stories of strong women. My grandmother was among them.

  45. I’m so very sorry for your loss. You were blessed to have someone so wonderful as your grandmother. Your tribute to her is very heartfelt and special. She sounds like she led an amazing and fulfilling life. RIP Mernie. Your legacy will live on in all who knew you.

  46. Thank you so much for sharing.
    Inspiring people are so important to us all. People of integrity are needed more than ever. Your family was blessed to have her ❤.

  47. Kristi,
    I’m so sorry for your loss. I DO remember reading about your grandmother before, but I don’t remember that story. AMAZING. Not only did she live to 108 (which is quite a feat!) but she did that AFTER suffering such a injury! I think I know why you are the way you are now.

  48. What an amazing woman and legacy she was! You were very blessed to have had her in your life for so long. I am so sorry for your family’s loss, but what a glorious reception she had upon meeting our Lord at the end of her journey!

  49. I had thought of you this morning, intending on checking to see if you had a post for the new year. But time and my brain got away from me, and I forgot. So sorry for your families loss, but oh what a great life she had! You are incredibly lucky to have had her around this long. I was the baby in the family, and only had my granny here mentally until I was 11. After that she didn’t know me or anyone else in the family and lived like that until I was 16. I was always so sad visiting my Aunt, knowing grandma was locked behind her bedroom door to keep her safe from harming herself or escaping to “go to her home” that she hasn’t had for decades. How lucky you were. But on with a new year and the hope it brings!

  50. Kristi, how blessed you are to have had your grandmother for such a long time. But we all know it’s never long enough. I just had to write because we called my great-grandmother Mernie too! I thought her nickname was original, and I have never heard anyone else call a grand-parent Mernie! My great-grandmother’s name was Myrtle Mae Hutsell. She was born in 1884 and lived for about 80 years. She was a kind, quiet woman whom I truly adored. I was in the first grade when she passed but I remember visiting her and watching Rawhide with her and my great-grandfather. I cherish those memories. I have been following you for a long time and I admire your work. You have been my inspiration for diying all of my homes. I have learned a lot from you and most importantly, you gave me the courage to tackle projects I never thought I could do. Thank you!

  51. What an amazing woman to have had in your life for so many wonderful years! You are truly blessed! I purchased her memoir for my Kindle and can’t wait to read her words of wisdom.

  52. Kristi,
    It is so wonderful to have a loved one live a long life and even write a book about it!
    So glad you had her for so many years and such sweet memories. You will miss her!

    Looking forward to your accomplishments in 2021 and learning new things from you!!!
    Asheville, NC

  53. Deepest condolences on your loss, but wow! What an amazing woman! Thank you for sharing a wonderful tribute to her life.

  54. I’m so sorry to learn that you no longer have your sweet Grandma here with you. What an inspiring woman she was. Thank you for sharing her stories — just what I needed to hear today.

  55. So sorry for your loss. Your grandmother was a remarkable woman. I only wish I had been able to have my grandmother for as long as you did. She was born in 1911 and passed in 1993. She was a feisty little five foot tall dynamo. She could do just about anything. Carpentry, sewing, crochet, wonderful cook. She married at 13 years old and had 3 children before she was twenty. My mother was ill quite a lot when I was small so she helped raise me. Like you she was my last grandparent to pass. Many a time I have wished for just one more day with her. Treasure all the wonderful memories you have of her.

  56. My condolences on the loss of your beloved grandmother. 108 is an amazing life and I can’t wait to read her memoir. Please hold these memories close to your heart and smile when you think of her and her impact on you. Hugs.

  57. Dear Kristi,

    I just feel overwhelmed by your story about Merny. What an incredible, strong woman. She is an inspiration to all women, just as YOU are, Kristi! I do not know any female who does what you do. Not one. You probably think it is just routine, just like your grandmother did!

    I read through all of the comments here, and I was so moved by the outpouring of love from your readers. It was nice to see so many women supporting you.

    Kristi, I am so sorry that your grandmother has crossed over, but can you imagine all of the souls who were there to greet her?! And what a legacy she left behind! I bought her book, and I cannot wait to read it!

    Much love and comfort to you and your family.

  58. She was amazing and such an inspiration! And looks much younger than 104 in that picture! So beautiful! Sorry for your loss.

  59. What a beautiful tribute to an amazing woman. She is an inspiration to us all. I am definitely going to read the book. Thanks for posting this and hope 2021 is a better year! Looking forward to your projects in the new year!

  60. Kristi, reading this post has made 2020 almost worth it …what a gem of a woman your grandmother was! 108 years is amazing enough, but to add independent living up until 100 and after having a burn history that would table most men. I now understand how you can take on things like sheetrock and saws and 2×4’s and caring for your husband. Ms. Mernie was incredibly proud of you and we all know it. Thank you for sharing a bit of her history with us; it is inspiring in so many ways.

  61. What a touching tribute: Imagine being able to stay on this earth for 108 years! She was beautiful and such a survivor…you are so lucky to have her around for so many years. I never knew my Grandparents (died when I was very young); so now I’m at that age…and desparetly want to live to see my Grandchildren hit 15-20 years old!!!

  62. Kristi, I’m so sorry for your loss. When we lost my mom my brother called it her birthday in heaven and that just makes heaven feel so much more special to know we will meet again. I was amazed to read about your Grandma Mernie, who she was, some of what she did, the example she left for you and your family and even touches me to make me want to try harder. She must have been so proud of you because you are pretty amazing too!