This Saturday as I was leaving the wedding I was shooting, I received some sad news. My grandma, my hero, passed away. It’s bittersweet, really. She was so ready to go. Her 102-year-old body had had enough. Frankie Bell Dunavin was the kindest, most loving and God fearing woman with a whip smart sense of humor to boot. I have so many fond memories of the only grandparent I’ve ever known. She would never let you leave her home hungry. Meals were simple but plentiful and she poured her heart into everything she made. She was an amazing cook. Her love of nature was evident in every nook and cranny of her home. Glass bottle terrariums and bowls of rocks covered tabletops throughout her house while various flowers and vegetables grew in gardens throughout her yard. She loved the simple things and she loved God more than anything.
Her last few years on earth, I feel like I became even closer to Frankie. When I lived in Ann Arbor, I’d be sure to call her every week and just check in. She didn’t like being in a nursing home – she missed the daily activities in life we take for granted: taking a long hot bath, washing clothes, cooking. It pained me to hear her complain about not being able to do those small things – things I myself might have complained about doing just the day before.
Grandma had 44 grandchildren and she made each of us feel like we were the only one when we were with her. She loved us so hard and so deeply. We could do no wrong.
I’ve learned so much from Frankie — from living a Christ-like life to the importance of family and forgiveness to not taking the little things in life for granted.
I wish I could have said good-bye but I know I’ll see her again. And until that day comes, I will strive to be just like her.
Her obituary in the Amarillo Globe News:
Frankie Bell Dunavin
Frankie Bell Dunavin, 102, of Amarillo died Saturday, March 21, 2009.
Services will be at 10 a.m. Tuesday in Boxwell Brothers Funeral Directors Ivy Chapel, 2800 Paramount Blvd., with Jeff Messer, chaplain of Bivins Memorial Nursing Home, officiating. Burial will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday in Laurelland Cemetery in Fort Worth.
Mrs. Dunavin was born June 23, 1906, in Quinlan to Bell Zora and Riley Pinkney Little. She was a homemaker. Mrs. Dunavin was a member of Fairview Baptist Church.
As a little girl, Frankie was a connoisseur of pretty rocks and flowers. As a high school teen, she was a bloomer-wearing forward on the basketball team. She called her position “goal pitcher.” As a young mother, she “raised up her children in the way of the Lord.” Because of her example, some would abide in that scripture and love while some had to test the waters of life outside that cradle. Yet, because of her prayers and unyielding faith, each of the prodigals returned.
She was a gentle spirit who led by example. Her faith in God and love of all that He created is the legacy she left her family and all who knew her. Throughout her life, she knew the Lord would provide.
The family would like to express their gratitude to Bivins Memorial Nursing Home.
“I haven’t any money but what do I care, from my window I can see God’s wonders everywhere …” – Frankie Dunavin.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Tandy Lee Dunavin; two sons, Troy Dunavin and Muriel Dunavin; and a daughter, Helen Dunavin.
Survivors include six sons, Bobby Dunavin and wife Laverne, Chester Dunavin and wife Ann and Steve Dunavin and wife Dorisa, all of Amarillo, Roy Dunavin and wife Joyce of Fort Smith, Ark., Pat Dunavin and wife Sherry of Cleburne and Jerry Dunavin and wife Lynn of Fort Worth; two daughters, RoJean Hume of Fort Worth and JoAnn Thigpen of Amarillo; two daughters-in-law, Nelda Dunavin of Fort Worth and Willie Dunavin of Amarillo; 44 grandchildren; 98 great-grandchildren; 93 great-great-grandchildren; and a great-great-great-grandchild.
The family suggests memorials be to Bivins Memorial Nursing Home, 1001 Wallace Blvd., Amarillo, TX 79106.
Me and Grandma a few years ago – I love these images of us together. She was such a warm, inviting soul.