Weezie was 103 years old when she passed away. Weezie was my grandmother – the finest leader I have ever known. Before I tell you what she had, let me tell you what she did not have. She did not have size. She stood at less than five feet tall and weighed about eighty pounds. She did not have a sense of arrogance or haughty and she had accomplished a lot. When she passed away, our local paper used the entire front page to describe her life. Finally, she had no hesitation about making it clear to her other grandchildren that I was her favorite. I am not sure this was a good idea, but as a grandchild, at the time, I liked it. I remember every time I would leave Weezie's house, she would say, “Stephen, how do I love thee, oh let me count the ways.” Elizabeth Barrett Browning was her favorite author.
Let me share a funny story about Ms. Browning, and Weezie. Upon Weezie's death, the family decided that we would put the Elizabeth Barrett Browning quote on Weezie's monument: “How do I love thee, let me count the ways.” Evidently the monument manufacturer was not as familiar with Ms. Browning as we were. We were aghast when the monument was returned. It read, “How could I love thee, let me count the ways.”
This is a marvelous lead-in to what Weezie did have and why she was such a wonderful leader. First was her sense of humor. Her giggles sounded as if she were climbing a ladder. I remember one trick I played on her. We were sitting in the front of my new car. I was in my thirties and she in her nineties. The car had lots of buttons on the driver's side that controlled all the windows in the car. I said, “Weezie, if you'll tell that window to go up, it will go up.” She said, “Window, go up.” I flipped the switch. She responded, “Goodness, what will they think of next?” And then, she let her humor loose. My cousin was about to have her fifth child and asked Weezie, “What name should we give our fifth child, Weezie?” Weezie's response was,”Omega.”
She possessed a grounding. For many weeks my mother was hospitalized in another part of the state. Daddy was staying with mother. Weezie cared for my sister and me. One night, I was walking by Weezie's room. I will never forget it. An 85 year old woman was kneeling by the bed. How that moment has led my life.
Thirdly, she had an appreciation for word crafting. She took grammar and literature and writing notes of encouragement very seriously. Weezie was the leader who led me to write 21 books, for the most part, with respectable grammar.
Fourth, she had the courage to make the tough call. Weezie was a small, giant oak tree. She knew how to care enough to confront. She had a marvelous gift of discernment and led a remarkable life. But I doubt if she would have ever won an election. She had made too many tough calls.
One of Weezie's greatest gifts to me was the Book of Knowledge. On the inside cover she had written this marvelous quote by Alexander Pope, “A little learning is a dangerous thing...” What a mandate from a marvelous leader – my Weezie.