It didn’t matter who you were, she was “Grandma” to you. That’s most often how she would introduce herself. “Hi, I’m Grandma!” Everybody called her Grandma. She took a genuine interest in people. She would converse with you in a way that made you feel special and loved and cared about. She had a knack for remembering details, and the next time she saw you, she would inquire about things told to her in past conversations.

She was so excited about the many new great-grandbabies due this coming fall and winter, and it never got old for her. She welcomed each new baby with joy and would hold them with such tenderness and delight. We will keep her stories and memories alive for these little ones, but we’re sad that they will not have the blessing of knowing her in person as we have. 

She was always available. When we kids were young, she would often babysit so Mom and Dad could go out on a date. If Mom needed something from the grocery store, she was happy to pick it up. She always had time for a conversation with the teenager and never passed over the toddlers either. Each one of us was made to feel valued and loved by Grandma. She was our biggest cheerleader, coming to every music recital, birthday party, and graduation celebration— and with 21 grandkids and 13 great-grandkids, that was quite a feat!

She was an exhorter. If we ever doubted our gifts or abilities, Grandma was there to spur us on. She’d pull the classic “grandma move” and have us putting on impromptu talent shows for complete strangers. “Why don’t you get up here and perform that song you’ve been working on?” “Aww, Grandma, really? Do I have to?” We’d say, glancing at mom, but we knew mom would back her every time. We’d reluctantly get up and do a number, and it didn’t matter how terrible we thought we sounded, Grandma would beam with pride and start the applause. She believed in our gifts and abilities more than we did at times, and she spurred us on to do our best and to give God the glory for all our talents and achievements.

She was a successful businesswoman. She was the third generation in the Duggar family to become a Real Estate agent and was delighted to see her son and several of her grandkids follow in her footsteps and carry it on to the fourth and fifth generations. She knew all the tricks of the trade and was a storehouse of knowledge and wisdom. “It’s all about location, location, location.” She’d always remind us. She was a bargain hunter— “You make your money when you buy,” she’d say.

She gave in secret. She was like an angel, going around and blessing others. When we were all young, she knew that we could use an extra hand and she’d often plan her workday with a bit of extra time to pop in and help out us out. Mom said she’d sneak in the back door just to load the dishwasher or throw in a load or two of laundry, and then head out before we’d realized what she’d done. Years later when she lived with us for a time, she washed and folded loads and loads of laundry daily. She was so selfless and giving, not seeking recognition or reward for her efforts.

She was a sleuth. You couldn’t get anything past grandma. She was all about the truth, and she would discover it no matter what. We were all convinced she was part of the CIA. You didn’t try to pull one over on Grandma! And yet she wasn’t entirely stern or serious— she was equally fun-loving and sweet, the first to offer a hug, and quick to forgive when an apology was made.

She gave meaningful gifts. She remembered every birthday for every grand and great-grandkid, and there was no age limit to her generosity. Birthday gifts were picked out for the young, and when we got older she’d give us cash because she wanted us to be able to pick out something for ourselves. Her cards always included a Bible verse that she was praying as a blessing over our lives. She loved to bring us crafts and art supplies— pot-holder weaving looms, beads and jewelry-making kits, markers, paints, sidewalk chalk.

She was thrifty. She’d save things that others might toss out, and creatively repurpose things for another use. For example, when I got married, one of the things she gave me was a plastic gallon jug (like a milk jug) with a 5” hole cut in the side, for me to store my plastic grocery bags in. I keep it in the cabinet under my sink and use it all the time! So practical and resourceful!

She was a bargain hunter. She loved her thrift and discount stores, and if you went out with Grandma, you better be prepared to shop till you drop. She’d find the best deals! And speaking of Deals, that was the name of one of her favorite hunting grounds. Remember the dozens and dozens of tubs of 4th of July, red, white and blue “Bunny Tracks” ice cream she found super cheap there? We were set for birthday ice cream for the next two months!

She didn’t show favoritism, but we joked that Amy, Jinger, and Jed were her favorites grandkids because they shared her passion for shopping and could keep up with Grandma’s energy level on all her adventures. And Grandma apparently knew this, because if she had a big shopping day planned, she knew she could count on one of these three to go out with her all day and not tucker out.

She was classy. We always said that even though she was a grandma, she didn’t dress like one. In addition to her natural beauty, Mrs. Pamela kept her hair on point, and with Amy as her fashion consultant, she was always looking decades younger than her peers. Goodwill and 1/2 of 1/2 Name Brand Clothing were definitely favorite shopping spots of hers. She’d always find the cutest items at the best price, even if that required her to stitch up a little tear or sew a button back on. She could do it all.

She was a traveler, often taking trips with Aunt Deanna and Amy to Branson or Nashville. She loved road-trips with the whole family, and never complained about the noise or the craziness, though I’m sure we were quite wild at times! She also traveled internationally, going to many countries around the world. Japan, China, Scotland, Ireland, and her most favorite of all— Israel. She counted her trip to the Holy Land as one of her greatest experiences in life. It was as if the Bible she had read and cherished for over half a century had become 3D. She took in every site with childlike awe and wonder and memorized more facts than anyone else throughout the tour. She loved to study the end times, and would often quiz us on things we had seen, “Remember seeing the East Gate? What does Bible prophecy tell us about that location?”

She loved to discuss the Bible and theology. She was a great thinker and an intellect, and she would use vivid analogies to get ideas across— like the story of the tightrope walker and its representation of true belief in Christ.

She had the best stories. She could keep our attention for an hour straight as she told tales of her childhood and the early days of her marriage.

She was instrumental in my parents conversing for the first time. If not for Grandma, none of us would be here today. You see, she managed the yogurt shop where my mom applied for her first job, and through this providential connection, my dad and mom had their first conversation and he finally worked up the courage to ask her out. My mom was newly converted to Christianity at that point in her life, and Grandma became a spiritual mom to her and was used by the Lord to teach her so much. This was the beginning of a dear relationship with her future mother-in-law. Fun fact: my mom ended up borrowing Grandma Duggar’s wedding dress to wear on her own wedding day!

She had many health food kicks. When we were young, it was grapefruit seed extract diluted with water in a spray bottle to be used for sore throats. For the past decade, oil of oregano was her go-to remedy for everything— and I do mean everything. Just ask Pops! Ha! Stomach ache? Take orally. Bug bite? Use topically. For the record, it really did work on bug bites! Stopped the itching right away! Then I remember her radishes— fresh radishes. She’d eat them like apples, and encouraged us to do the same. So many health benefits! Then for the past 5 years, it‘s been elderberry juice. Anytime we started with the sniffles, there she’d be with a shot of elderberry for us to take. But even with all her health-consciousness...

She loved her fast-food. If we went running errands with her, she’d likely get us something to eat while we were out and about! Does anybody remember the Sonic half-priced hickory burgers on Tuesday nights? Jinger can attest, some of her personal favorites were McDonald’s fish sandwiches and Braum’s soft-serve frozen yogurt.

She would be the first to see to it that everyone was kept fed and hydrated, whether it was bringing Wendy’s and watermelon to the guys on the job site, or whipping up a Duggar-sized batch of tuna noodle casserole on babysitting night. She‘d regularly make Grandpa his favorite sweet tea, and I’m pretty sure her fridge never lacked for his favorite condiment—a bottle of ketchup.

She was a faithfully caring wife. Grandpa was so blessed to have such a loving and giving woman by his side throughout all the ups and downs of life— through poverty and wealth, in sickness and in health. For months upon months, she faithfully cared for his every need until cancer took him from her arms.

She praised God in hard times. She often quoted Rom 8:28– “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Months after Grandpa’s passing, she taught us all a rich life lesson when she explained what God had been showing her. She said that it was as if God whispered to her heart, “You haven’t praised me yet for taking him.” And with this pressed upon her heart, she did just that, she said: “God, I praise you for taking him.” While she would forever miss Grandpa immensely, she said it if was like the despairing grief that was weighing her down, melted away in an instant... the clouds parted, and she regained her joy in the Lord.

She was a dedicated Christian. She was a soul-winner, and she taught all of us how to share the gospel. She spoke often of the holy character of God and His just wrath against sin. She reiterated to us that it isn’t by our own works that we are saved, but by God’s great mercy in Christ, the only perfect man to have ever walked this earth. Christ bore our sins in his body on the cross and rose from the dead so that all who repent of their sins and turn to Him in faith might have forgiveness of sin and eternal life with Him. When cloudy skies would part and rays of sunshine beamed through, countless times we heard her say, “Those sunbeams coming through the clouds always remind me of God’s faithfulness. We’re not faithful, He is faithful.”

As we look back and reflect on the gift God gave us in Grandma Duggar, we are so grateful. How we wish we would’ve hugged her more, said “I love you” more, and spoken more of these sentiments to her while she was here with us. She was deeply loved, and she impacted the lives of so many people.

While we weep over our loss, we realize that she has been united with the person she loved more than anyone here on this earth. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. 

We love you, Grandma.