This past weekend, I tripped over a box on my way to the file cabinet and tried one too many times to unstick a too-full drawer. Three hours later, I had pulled everything apart, labeled it all, organized everything and stuck it back in the now unstuck file drawers. Among the pictures and articles, I found some things that my grandma had written. She was a beautiful writer and one of the things I stumbled upon was an essay she wrote the night her mother was dying.
It completely undid me, since the second anniversary of her own Home going is only a few days away.
The article, funny enough was titled “Grandma’s Going to Heaven…and I’m Glad”.
She wrote about how glad she was that her mother was faithful to read Scripture to her, that she carried her Bible with her, that she prayed for her and eventually all of us. She was glad that Great-Grandma’s sense of humor made her funny to be around and was endearing to her care-givers.
The last part of the article felt strangely prophetic, since it was so close to how we all were feeling two years ago at this time.
She wrote “I’m glad her suffering will soon be over. Each breath is a struggle, and she’s been sick so many times. What a blessed release it will be to leave her worn little body behind! I’m glad for the Lord’s presence for ‘precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints’. I’m glad for the shortest verse in the Bible, ‘Jesus wept’. I know He understand the grief we feel because we so feebly understand the power of the resurrection. I’m so GLAD for Him!”
I was amazed at how similar we all felt during those last hours when Grandma was on the threshold of Heaven. Maybe I shouldn’t be amazed, though, because Grandma herself constantly pointed us towards Heaven and towards Christ.
I frequently read the accounts of Christ on earth and I so want to be like Him. He had the right word at the right time. He called out those who needed to be called out. He gently touched people who society had called garbage and thrown out. He got down in the dirt beside the smelly, useless and deranged. I don’t know if I could ever be like that. My heart aches to love people like He did, but I frequently stumble over my words, recoil from the crazies, and want to put some healthy distance between myself and the people who are spiritual, mental and emotional vampires.
Christ had an edge on me being the Son of God. My grandma didn’t have that edge, though.
She was human. She was flawed. She was normal. She had six kids and fourteen grandkids and no driver’s license. Along with the job of pastor’s wife, she inherited a needy and sometimes strange flock of human beings.
At her funeral, many of those people showed up and not one of them had anything bad to say. Not that people usually do have bad things to say at a funeral, but seriously, nobody had anything bad to say. There was nothing bad to say. I remember my cousins and I joking that if nobody had anything bad to say about us at our funerals, it was because a whole lot of people had gotten in car accidents on the way.
As her fourth grandchild of fourteen, I was old enough to see opportunities for my grandma to lose it. I was at the family reunions full of adult children who were hilariously weird, grandchildren who tended to fall through icy lakes, get in slap fights, and have accidents involving three roller skates, as well as all the younger cousins who were little and good at it. Grandma cooked for us all, managed us all, and I never once remember her raising her voice. If I was in charge of that crew, I’d be throwing people in time-outs left and right and hollering at everyone to shut the crap up for just a minute so I could think. Kind of like I do every day. She was unfailingly gracious to people not lucky enough to be related to her. She had a kind word and a gentle touch for the most needy and strange.
I don’t know how Grandma did it, but she managed to be as close to Christ-like as anyone I’ve ever met and to do it in the midst of chaos. Chaos that could have sent the Pope and Mother Theresa to the wine cellar.
I guess the point I’m trying to make is that I frequently feel like there is no way on this earth that I could ever be one hundred percent like Christ, but since Grandma was human, I should probably try to be more like her.
I love my Grandma. I miss her. A lot. I hope that an angel whispers in her ear that all of her girls want to be like her. That they love her.
I can’t wait to see her again. If the Bible was talking about literal crowns being given out to reward God’s faithful, I have a feeling we will have to dig Grandma out from a giant pile of treasure before we can throw our arms around her again.
Most of all, I pray that one of Grandma’s rewards will be for me following her as she followed Christ. Faithfully, patiently, lovingly, and kindly.
No matter who hit who and who set fire to what and what dog just barfed and who is bleeding now.
In Loving Memory of Doris Cox, who went Home on September 6th, 2011.