The Most Beautiful Smile

Picture-034_thumb.jpgThe 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.

2008-11-19_084edit_thumb.jpgThrough 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:

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Irises I took from starts from Grandma’s yard

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.

char2a

39 thoughts on “The Most Beautiful Smile

  1. A lovely post Char. I so admire people that can see the good in everything and how special to have flowers blooming with a connection to that loved one 🙂

    • I know. My irises are a LOT of work because I have way too many…but when they bloom each year (like they are now) I think they’re worth all the effort of digging up and dividing every so often. They’re like a symbol of Grandma’s love–always growing and multiplying and bringing joy to everyone that sees them.

  2. Ît helped that she wore it so often…….What a beautiful post…..I love your way of sharing

    • Thanks, Lora Dawn. I know you’ve heard this already at writing group, but I kept it to share on her birthday…because I’ve been thinking a lot about her.

  3. What a beautiful tribute. She’s smiling at you right now. This post made me think of all the beautiful faces from my past. Thank you!

  4. “I have the headaches whether I smile or frown,”—What insightful words we can all learn from. The message applies to far more than headaches.

    I’ll take her beautiful smile over the wax ones of Hollywood any day!

  5. Wonderful post, Char and your Grandma does have a beautiful smile and it sounds as if she was very wise. I agree with that grateful thing–it’s easy to do when things are going great. It gets tougher when things aren’t, but I still try during the tough times because life is precious and those that we share it with are as well–whatever we’re going through–that stays the same.

  6. What a beautiful tribute to your Grandmother, Charissa. What a good example she is to all of us; smiling through pain is not an easy thing to do. Thanks for posting this today. It was something I needed to hear!

  7. So SWEET and Beautiful – thanks so much for sharing 🙂 Your Grandma sounds like my Grandma in sharing their smiles. Plus when my Grandma hugged me I knew I was HOME! Happy Week.

  8. This was beautiful! My maternal grandparents passed away when I was an infant, I never met my dad’s father and I only ever knew my dad’s mom. My grandmother turned 100 years old last year. Unfortunately, I never had much of a relationship with her. Reading about your grandmother and your relationship with her was beautiful! Thanks for sharing her with us 🙂

    • Her heart was big enough for the world. She loved everyone she ever met and gave them her gift of her smile. Glad to share her with you.

  9. Wow, did your grandma look like you at your age? I can’t help but look at her first picture and then look at your picture on the right hand side (your profile pic) and see the resemblance through two generations. She looked like a lovely person, inside and out.

  10. I’d bet your grandmother was smiling as she read this post from above, Char. It’s a lovely tribute to her memory as is the way you’ve taken her words and beliefs to heart. It’s no wonder that her irises continue to thrive under your care.

    • Thanks. Her irises do remind me of her, and they keep spreading and multiplying, so I think I’ll have lots of fond memories through her flowers for decades.

  11. Oh this was so beautiful, Char. I couldn’t help but think of my own grandmother’s smile. Sounds like we were both blessed in the grandmother department. Somewhere they’re both smiling brightly on us.

  12. What a lovely tribute, Char. She indeed has a beautiful smile, and it comes through her eyes too. I got a little teary (in a good way!) because it made me think about my grandma. 🙂

    • Grandmas like ours are the best! They are way more powerful than politicians or CEOs because their influence is felt forever.

  13. When we think of loved ones that have passed away, it is not the inheritance of material stuff that warms our hearts, it is the memories of being loved and feeling joy in their presence. Thanks for sharing.

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