It’s a beautiful Sunday in October, and I just remembered it’s the day that would have been my grandmother’s 107th birthday. You might ask: “So, when do you stop counting someone’s age?” In my mind, never. She lives on. Five years ago, on a Sunday morning in September, much like this one, she prepared to go to church for the last time. How appropriate for a woman who’d spent all of her life serving others, teaching children to love Jesus, forever having a thirst for a knowledge of nature, and always an encourager of those with dreams and pursuits in life.
From the time of my birth, she was and continues to be one of the dearest people in the world to me. Memories of her and spending the formative years of my life in daily contact with her has made me think of my roots. Because of her, to this day, though I’ve lived in several states, I will forever be a Texan. This may sound silly to some, since my accent hints of a mid-western to northeastern upbringing, but there was something rooted and grounded in love that came from this woman who made every visit to the Lone Star state an adventure and home-coming at the same time.
She was an artist, a lover of the written word, nature photography, and gardening. I’m privileged to have some of her beloved iris planted in my own garden today. Most of all, she encouraged me to write. I can only imagine how many hundreds of letters I sent to her when my family’s moves took us hundreds of miles away. She was the one who first told me that someday I’d write books others would want to read too. She reminded me often, especially when I was down: God don’t make Junk.
Knowing her spirit lives on is some consolation, but the memory of her still makes me cry when I recall times she’d sit on our porch swing covered by an old quilt and read to me before nap time. In later years, I’d return the favor during brief visits, and read to her, at her request.
She was the one who packed enough bologna and Miracle Whip sandwiches to feed a hungry bunch of travelers heading out to the farm for an adventure or two. She was also the one who had large pots of green beans, freshly sliced tomatoes, chicken ‘n dumplings, banana pudding, and gallons of iced tea, waiting on our return.
My grandmother was the one who scolded us when we raided her bread box to strip off the crusts and make dough ball pills to fill empty 35mm film cylinders…..pretending we were healers like my granddad, the country doctor.
She was the one who taught us how to hang clothes on the line to dry, and understood when we ran under sheets blowing dry in the wind or stood very still in-between the folds playing hide and seek in her backyard on calmer days.
My grandmother was the one who didn’t make a big fuss over our use of every clothespin she had to make “ice caves” out of sheets draped over furniture on the hottest days of summers in Texas, when the air conditioning got cranked up in our “napping room”. There was nothing cozier than wrapping up in a quilt while reading under a canopy of fresh linens.
How can I forget her faithfully following Jack La Lane on her black and white television set, even if she had to hold onto the back of a chair for balance, as she aged with more grace than most can claim. Every time I think of excuses for not exercising these days, I’m reminded that it’s a discipline throughout your life that matters. Being a star athlete was never her goal. She wanted to be healthy to enjoy life and better serve her family.
Mere words cannot tell how thankful I am that she was my grandmother.
Happy 107th Birthday to an ageless grandmother, now enjoying a well-deserved blessing in eternity. I love you, always.