The last time I visited Grandma Alta, my 98 year old great-grandmother, she demonstrated her keen alacrity and sound poignancy in a conversation with my father, her grandson.
Alta: "How are those little grandchildren of yours?"
Mark: "They sure are growing fast."
Alta: "Grandchildren tend to do that. They grow like weeds."
I appreciated her complete grasp of the irony of situation. She told her 58 year old grandson how fast grandchildren mature. Generations became moments to me while in the presence Grandma Alta for the last time. This experience demonstrated that although her physical being had somewhat deteriorated, her lucidity did not decrease in the slightest. I recall “immaculate” and “lush” among a few of the last words I had with her. Grandma Alta was always as clever as she was kind.
Perhaps it was Grandma Alta’s intelligence that had such a salutary effect on her life. Her prowess in dialogue and her complete lack of diffidence made her an enjoyable conversationalist and endeared her to all those with whom she exchanged words. Her jocular nature couldn’t help but fill you with mirth. I never left Grandma Alta’s house feeling angry or frustrated, but on the contrary, because of the location of my interactions with my great-grandmother I am still convinced that Fairview Utah is one of the happiest places on earth.
One of my fondest memories of Grandma Alta was hearing her patriarch, and fortuitously, her neighbor and relative, pronounce upon her a patriarchal blessing. It was a unique experience to hear the patriarchal blessing of a 95-year-old lady. Much of what was said was the narration of an already well-lived life. Much of what was said was a paean to her assiduousness in following the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Perhaps some might think that receiving a patriarchal blessing at the age of 95 is a bit belated. To those who follow that line of logic I would say the following: you did not know Grandma Alta. She did not need a patriarchal blessing to remain faithful. She had an innate indefatigability of doing what is right. This sacrosanct document is more for her posterity to reassure us that one can successfully lead an upright and honorable life. The memory of our grandmother does much to inspire us into following her righteous example.
There is no eulogy adequate enough to describe Grandma Alta’s significance. There is only one phase that comes closest to heralding her prominence. Alta Osborne’s comeuppance is no less than exaltation in the highest degree of the celestial kingdom.
In an effort to never forget the profound effect that my great-grandmother had in this world and in my life, my wife and I have decided to give our first-born daughter the name Alta. May the posterity of Alta Osborne be half as magnanimous as she was.
Nathan E. Shepherd