The most beautiful smile I ever saw was my Grandma’s. It wasn’t Hollywood beautiful—you know the so called ‘millionaire’ smile with perfectly straight white teeth you pay a mint for, or lip augmentation for those perfectly shaped lips, or a cute dimple to catch the eye. No, it had none of those so called ‘perfect smile’ characteristics. Grandma’s teeth were kind of crooked and yellowed with age. She wore no lipstick nor surgical enhancements to give her smile that extra charm, nor did I ever notice a God-given dimple.
Yet I can still envision her smile in my mind…even in my heart. It helped that she wore it so often.
As a child, I remember that smile. Grandma didn’t just wear it when she was happy. Even when I fell and scratched my knee, I remember her smiling and laughing, putting my little heart to ease that I wouldn’t die as she bandaged me up.
I remember her smiling as I whined about her food and told her it looked yucky. My rude childish behavior didn’t phase that smile. Grandma would just crinkle her eyes and tell me to try it before I told her I didn’t like it. And when I did, I usually ended up liking it.
We’d hike trails in Zion National Park or wade in the river with Grandma, and she always wore that smile as she played and helped her grandchildren.
Through good times and bad, Grandma’s smile was always near. Even though her body had betrayed her and left her with chronic migraines for decades, she never forsook that smile. Whenever I’d visit, the first thing I would be met with was her smile. I can’t begin to describe what that smile did. It inspired happiness and hope. There was no thinking gloomy thoughts in the light of that smile. It made me feel loved. It made me feel special. It even made me forget she was in pain.
I would ask how she was feeling, and she would smile and say, “I’m fine.”
I’d follow it up with, “That’s great! So your headaches are gone?”
She’d shake her head and say, “No, They’re never gone.”
“But then how can you be smiling?” I’d ask. It baffled me how she could smile like she did and inspire so much happiness in others when she felt so much pain.
“I have the headaches whether I smile or frown,” she’d reply with a mischievous glint in her eye. And she’d keep on smiling. And I’d keep on feeling loved and cherished.
The older I got, the more I realized her smile was a gift. Grandma didn’t have much in the way of material possessions. She lived a very simple life. But what she did have, she gave away to all she met. That never-ending smile of hers was worth more than all the gold in the world. It was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. And she wasn’t selfish with it. Grandma chose to be grateful and smile, no matter what. This quote by Dieter F. Uchtdorf describes her attitude about life:
This type of gratitude transcends whatever is happening around us. It surpasses disappointment, discouragement, and despair. It blooms just as beautifully in the icy landscape of winter as it does in the pleasant warmth of summer.
When we are grateful to God in our circumstances, we can experience gentle peace in the midst of tribulation. In grief, we can still lift up our hearts in praise. In pain, we can glory in Christ’s Atonement. In the cold of bitter sorrow, we can experience the closeness and warmth of heaven’s embrace.
We sometimes think that being grateful is what we do after our problems are solved, but how terribly shortsighted that is. How much of life do we miss by waiting to see the rainbow before thanking God that there is rain?
Grandma’s smile was proof that she was grateful for the rain and the rainbows. The memory of her smile is priceless to me. Happy Birthday, Grandma! You’d be 101 today, and not a day goes by that I don’t think of you and smile.