Special Edition: Happy Birthday Grandma – We Miss You

Feb 13th

What can I say about the most amazing woman I’ve ever known, and leave you with a sense of who she was?  Grandma K was the epitome of what a Christian is supposed to be.  She lived her life knowing that she had a personal relationship with Jesus, and that love flowed out of her to everyone she encountered.  Don’t get me wrong, she had an ornery streak – and she used it well to keep 5 kids and Grandpa in line, but she never left anyone with the feeling that they weren’t loved and welcome at her table.  Her voice and her laugh, her sense of humor in the face of pain or adversity, were a balm to the soul.  You knew when you were her, that Jesus was sitting right by her side just smiling at her with the sweetness we saw reflected in her face.

There was never a moment when a visit to Grandma’s house wasn’t met with enthusiasm and an eagerness to get there.  They lived just about 3 hours away, but doggone, they were the longest 3 hours ever traveled. My poor parents, we’d get into the car and they would IMMEDIATELY tell me to lay down and go to sleep.  Silence made the trip go easier for them, otherwise the “are we there yet? are we there yet? are we there yet?” would have driven them bonkers.  The last couple of miles were spent putting on our shoes, getting our scattered things together, straightening out our hair and getting last minute instructions not to fight or backtalk while we are at Grandma and Grandpa’s house.  Those warnings weren’t truly necessary – for even though my little brother and I would argue like cats and dogs at home, we got along great when we were with Grandma.  The hurt on her face if we didn’t get along cut to the core as if she’d needed to paddle us – it just was too awful to disappoint her!  So, we got along and found out that when we were with Grandma we just wanted to be at our very best.  That never changed, even when we were teenagers.  In fact, I think the older we got, the more we wanted to please her – she was THAT sweet.

When we were visiting my Grandparents, because their house was old, and not very big (odd, when I was little it felt huge, but as I grew up I realized just how limited their space really was) we bedded down in the main rooms of the house.  My parents and little brother were in the living room, and “my” cot was set up in the dining room walkway between the table and chair set, and the propane fireplace. Anyone needing to get to and from the kitchen or bathroom had to tiptoe past me, so I was fully aware when others were up and talking, having fun and enjoying life, while I was lying there fuming and fussing because I had to be in bed.  Oh the horror of bedtime!  There was a built in china cupboard with glass doors on both the dining room side and the kitchen side.  I could peek through the glass and see my Mom and Grandmother whispering and giggling til the wee hours.  Oh my gosh, how I wanted to be there with them, not missing out on a single moment of what was going on.  I remember tiptoeing up to the cupboard to look, but Dad was onto me.  I’d hear him growl at me from the living room to get back to bed NOW.  Life just was so unfair!  But Grandma always made up for it.  In the morning, no matter how late she and Mom finally went to bed, Grandma would tiptoe past me (I was of course instantly awake) into the kitchen and start warming it up.  She would make from scratch, rich and delicious hot cocoa, make some toast and start in on peeling potatoes to fry up to go with the bacon and eggs.  But for right then, all that interested me was the cocoa and toast.  I knew to wait til I heard her pop the toast into the toaster, and I would quietly slip into the kitchen, lugging my big patchwork quilt with me, and Grandma would wrap me up in it, and get me settled at the kitchen table.  She’d pour me a cup of cocoa, sprinkle in some marshmallows, and put out a slice of lightly buttered crispy toast onto a napkin in front of me.  She’d sit down with the same, and together we would talk quietly about anything that popped into my head – the topic changed and grew up as I did – while we dipped our toast into our cocoa.  That was our time and I always hoped and prayed that nobody else would get up for awhile so I could have her all to myself.  I think the family knew that, because usually we were left alone.  Once in awhile Grandpa would go through to the bathroom, then out the door to go fishing at the river, but for the most part, this was special time with Grandma and me.

When I was grown, married and had kids, we would head down to Grandma’s, and nothing except perhaps the stoop to her shoulders, the grey in her hair, or the speed in her steps, had changed.  My children were better when they were at Grandma’s, they snuck into the kitchen for cocoa and toast, and peeked through the glass at Grandma and I visiting until the wee hours of the morning.  They followed her around the garden, asking what and why to everything she pointed out to them, and soaked in the love that epitomized the woman who will always be, to me, the most amazing woman I ever met.  Nobody who knew her could ever disagree – how could they? She was all that was kind and good, loving and generous, honest and true.  God took an amazing angel home to be with Him when Grandma passed away – and though we miss her now, we know that someday we’ll be with her again – that she’s sitting with Jesus, sweetly talking about whatever it is people talk about when with the Lord, and waiting for the day we come home to see her.

If you can, hug your Grandmother today.  Give her a call if she lives too far to be near.  Send her a letter if phone calls are difficult (as with my Grandma who still is with us) due to hearing issues.  Grandmothers are a blessing, whether they are sweet and gentle like Grandma K, or tough as nails like my Grandma H.  Appreciate them while they are with you, and keep their memories alive.

Happy Birthday Grandma.  You are missed each and every day – and not a single day goes by when I don’t think of something you said to me that has made my life and how I live it better.  I love you.  Til we see each other again.  Me.

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