A Precious Memory
I spent this past weekend at my Gramma's house...for the last time. Saturday was her memorial, and also her 91st birthday, and my family came together to celebrate and mourn a precious woman. I couldn't have even begun to fathom how precious until after she had died, and I began hearing the memories of the others in her life.
As my family came together and reminisced, I felt inadequate compared to Gramma. She made love look so effortless and perfect. I cannot recall even one harsh word spoken from her. I cannot recall any discipline from her hand towards me or anyone else. I remember patience, grace, mercy, joy, and love. My sister remembers Gramma's patience as well. She spoke of Gramma telling us sweetly to turn off our wanter button, and creating games such as, Who Can Be the Quietest the Longest?
When I was in the first grade, my mom, sisters, and I lived with Gramma for the year. My memories of her included watching her shows, "The Young and Restless" during the day, and "Jeopardy" at night, while I laid my head in her lap and she scratched my back. At bedtime, she made sure to have us all partake in a before-bed snack, usually a cookie or cereal. I recall watching her sitting on her side of the couch, reading her Bible. At bathtime, I would sit in the bathtub and Gramma would rinse my hair with the perfect temperature of water.
I have memories of walking with Gramma and sometimes a friend of hers in the evenings, riding the bus to the mall and riding the escalators. Picking raspberries in the backyard and then later have raspberries and Mocha Mix for a snack or dessert. Before sitting down to eat, she would direct us to wash our hands and then we would pray.
Gramma's house was fabulous in my mind. My entire life, that is where she lived. For fifty years, she lived in the same house. When she and my Grampa divorced, she paid off the mortgage with a part-time job. Right after she died, my sisters and I drove to be with our mom at Gramma's house. We went through most everything, and separated items out, depending on who wanted what. We walked through and remembered things.
Sometimes memories hurt, a slice of sharp, intense pain through your heart that leaves it pounding, as tears rush to your eyes and you gasp for breath. For 31 years I've always known that house as Gramma's house. She was there when I came in the door, every time, ready with a hug and kiss and a smile. Usually she would try to make us food as soon as we came in the door. Down the hall we had our own rooms, where she had changed the sheets before a visit. In the bathroom was the laundry chute that we loved to throw dirty laundry down, and I remember her laughing hysterically over a joke involving that chute. In Gramma's room, the closet doors were made of glass mirrors, so we would play vertically straddling the mirror, and looking at the silly symmetrical reflections of ourselves. At the end of the hall was cupboards and drawers filled with all sorts of things. little random toys, books, papers and crafts. Gramma's kitchen had a lazy Susan, and I loved to play with that, wondering why she called it that. Downstairs at Gramma's was a full basement, wonderfully cool in the hot summer. My sisters and spent a lot of time down there playing with the trolls and toys of our mother's youth. I now have those trolls in my own home. The walls in Gramma's house were decorated with many of my uncle's paintings. He is a magnificent artist, and I have always been proud of his ability. Gramma also was a great artist, painting and writing, although I don't seem to recall seeing her paintings hanging up, but after going through the house, I was able to take a few of them. I was also blessed with her writings. I can't wait to go through the box that my mom packed for me. In one of them was a story that she wrote, and submitted to a children's magazine. It was a story about a magic watermelon pill, and my inventive Gramma let us experience that as children.
Outside, Gramma had a beautiful garden, which, over the years, grew apples, raspberries, rhubarb, and plums. We spent much time jumping on the trampoline, or playing Croquet, and sometimes we would help Gramma hang up the laundry to dry. Inside the garage there was a huge freezer. During hot summer days, Gramma stocked it with Schwann's food, specifically ice cream. When I was older I would joke with my Gramma about having an affair with the Schwann's man because he was there so often. Gramma LOVED ice cream. We always had it. One of the greatest things was going into that huge freezer , lifting up the lid, which squealed, and then digging through to find whatever treat we wanted, while frozen air swirled around. Just hearing that the sound of opening that lid could almost make you salivate, like Pavlov's dogs.
When we left after a visit, Gramma loaded us up with food, a gorgeous bouquet if flowers from the garden, and many hugs and kisses. She would slip a check to one of us girls, saying, "Give that to your mom after you leave." This is a tradition that my sisters and I carry on with our mother as well. We learned from the best. On our way out the driveway, mom would honk, and Gramma would stand in front of her house, waving and wiping away tears.
The memories from my Gramma are ones I will have forever. I consider it a blessing and an honor to be her granddaughter. I feel even more blessed that she was able to know and love on my children. They have some memories of her as well, and I am very happy about that. My Gramma had a wonderful sense of humor, and one of the things I will miss about her is her laugh, which she gave freely. I will remember the touch of her hands, and her loving spirit. The last time I saw her, less than a month before her death, I was holding her hands, telling her how soft and warm they were. Even then, she had love in her. God was gracious to me, and on my way out the door for that last visit, I suspected that might be the last time I would see her. So I got to give her some extra hugs and kisses, and tell her how much I loved her, and how precious she was to me. And God is so gracious because He created a way for my Gramma and I to meet again, this time without goodbyes. My Gramma is with God right now, happier than ever, and I know He is telling her "Good job, my faithful servant." My Gramma didn't travel the world to tell people about Jesus or help build up communities in third-world countries, but she did show her family exactly how Jesus loves us, and how we need to love others. My Gramma was amazing, and I love her.
I will see you again, Gramma. Thank you.
1 Corinthians 13
The Way of Love
If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.
If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.
If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.
When I was an infant at my mother’s breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good.
We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!
But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.
9/22/2014 06:05:48 am
That is great Leah, what lovely memories.
9/22/2014 06:27:13 am
Thank you, Auntie.
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