My grandmother passed away on Tuesday. She’s in heaven having the time of her life. And, it really hurts.
(As an aside, we all need to stop being so stinking guilty about feeling like crap when people we love go Home. It’s fine! We miss them, we wish we could see their faces, hear their laugh again, snuggle in for a hug, be served tea in china cups, eat the scones that only they could make… So, please. Let’s all be okay with missing them! I think we’ll all feel a lot better.)
My grandma was one of those really quiet people who lovingly served God, her family, and just about everyone around her without ever making demands on anyone for herself. I remember that whenever I would ask her if she needed or wanted something, either the answer would be “That’s sweet, but I think I’m fine.” or “Well, I think I might like some _________.” It was never a need. It was never a demand.
One of the main things I remember about her is that she always made me feel special. She served me with a cloth napkin and a nice glass when I was far too young to appreciate it. She made me hard-boiled eggs and put them in fancy egg cups. There were always flowers picked from her yard, or the side of the road, or wherever, on the table. I got a nice china cup with my favorite tea in it when I visited. When I would sit by her, she wanted to hear all about what was going on in my life. The last time I saw her, she was having a rough time walking. But, she got up out of her chair, walked me to their back door, gave me one more hug, and waved until we pulled away. She didn’t have to do that, but it made me feel so loved.
There are so many memories and so many things I could write about right now. The way her left foot turned in just slightly when she walked. That her cheeks were always a little pink, even though I’m sure she never wore make-up a day in her life. The way she always looked so pretty and pulled together. The way she would sit and read her Bible.
I guess the thing that I have found myself reflecting on the last few days is that I, and all of my girl cousins, have wanted to be like Grandma someday. And, as it turns out, we all feel pretty far off the mark. We’ve laughed about how Grandma always said what was on her mind and, although it was funny, it was never offensive. If I said everything that was on MY mind, I would alienate everyone around me. I think Grandma could get away with it because her mind was so much more like the mind of Christ than mine is currently.
Which brings me to the point of what I’m trying to say today. My grandma was pretty amazing and I have no doubt that God meant it maybe just a little more than usual when he said, “Well done, good and faithful servant” when Grandma showed up at His door. I would love nothing more than to be like her. So, I’ve started my “Grandma List”. Instead of a Bucket List, which is all the things I want to do, it will contain all the things I want to be.
So, here’s the beginning of my Grandma List. It will grow, trust me!
1. Read my bible, not just to read it, but to love it. I’ve been doing a decent job at reading my bible over the last year. My grandma LOVED her bible, though. She read every day, without fail. Every card she ever wrote to me included a verse and I knew she didn’t have to go searching for the right one. It was just there. It was a part of her. And, she loved it.
2. Pray. She prayed, every day, for her expanding family, by name. I know she prayed for countless other people, too. She was a prayer warrior before the phrase became fashionable. If prayer really does change things, then about a billion people owe the fact that they aren’t totally screwed up to my grandma. The night before Grandma went Home, I found myself awake and wondering what in the world to do while waiting for the inevitable phone call from my mom. I found myself praying for our family since I knew that Grandma couldn’t do it. I want that to continue and to be more like her when she prayed, which, when I heard her pray, felt like she was just continuing her train of thought aloud for a minute and would go back to her internal prayer when we were done. She must be so happy to hang out with God and talk to Him in person now!
3. Be a little more pulled together. Grandma never looked messy. I can’t think of one time I saw her looking a little off. I’m not saying mascara is going to be part of my pre-running routine or that there isn’t a really appropriate venue for dirt-stained overalls. It just wouldn’t kill me to throw on a pair of earrings every once in a while, or at least change out of my pajamas before noon. I can remember, in the last month, that I’ve rolled out of the house for coffee with a friend and may not have brushed my hair or my teeth. And, that’s gross. It doesn’t really send the right message to the person I’m spending time with either. “Sorry, I couldn’t be bothered to wipe the sleep boogers out of my eyes before I saw you.” While my true friends will forgive a little booger-ing every once in a while, I’d like to communicate to them that they were worth me finding my hairbrush and possibly excavating a not stained pair of pants to wear. I always felt “worth it” to Grandma, and that meant a lot to me.
4. Look for the beauty in life. I remember walking into my house in high school, stiflingly hot in my hateful band uniform, cranky as all get out that I was wearing said uniform and had been rained on boot. Grandma took one look at me and instead of commenting on the hot mess that I was, told me how my cheeks looked so pretty when they were red. I always got the feeling that if there was one flower in all of nature to be found, she would find it and love it and thank God for it. Life can really stink sometimes, but there is always beauty in it. I just need to look harder.
5. Laugh. My family is pretty funny, but we think we are way funnier than we really are. Grandma ALWAYS laughed, even when she found out why the boy cousins couldn’t sit down right the day after requiring beans for dinner and matches. (If you don’t get it, go ask the nearest teenage boy.) Just as she always saw the beauty in things, she could always find something to laugh about. Laughing is such a happy sound, and her laugh brought smiles to countless people in her lifetime.
6. Serve. Grandma was a tireless servant. She was a pastor’s wife for 50 years. She was a mother of 6, grandmother of 14 and she never had a ton of help. And, she never complained about it. She service never drew attention. I saw her silently hand her hymnbook to someone else, reach her hand out to someone who needed it, or quietly tell a story to the kids in our church. I never remember seeing her sit during a potluck, keep soemone longer than necessary, or talk more than she should. She always deferred to others and sacrificed the things she needed or wanted when she realized that they would benefit someone else more.
I know there will be so many more things added to my Grandma List. I think if I got a start on these things, my life would be different, and the lives of everyone else would be blessed as well.
To my girl cousins: We can totally do this. Even though we all tend to be sarcastic, silly, and many times, the center of attention, I truly believe that if Grandma can do it, we can to! 🙂
To my Grandma: I love you so much. I’m so thankful for the example you set for all of us. Even though you were quiet in life, your memory will ring loud and long. You will be missed for years to come and your legacy will be passed down as long as this world remains. I am comforted to know that when it is my turn to walk through the door into heaven, you will be there, a greatly honored lady, waiting to welcome me home.
Dedicated to Doris Merle Wiley Cox. February 16th, 1925-September 6th, 2011.