Today, my wife, children and I are back in my hometown among my family as we pay homage to my grandmother Ruth who left this life on last week. It wasn’t easy hearing the news of her passing, even though we knew it was coming. She had been diagnosed with cancer of the liver not more than a day following Mother’s Day this year. She was so far advanced that she refused any treatment they could offer, knowing that the treatment would be as damaging to her as any relief it could possibly offer.
The hard part for me, was knowing that in all the time since that day was that I could not as easily get to her to be with her in the way many of my other family members could. It was agonizing for both my wife and I. What gave us any comfort were the brief moments that we could at least hear her voice over the phone on the few days when she was strong enough and conscious enough to speak.
This is not however a time of grief for me because I don’t count her passing as a loss. I count her passing as a transition to her new life in glory. One of the things that she had communicated in the days of her decline was that she felt that she was being called Home to receive her new body, or as she put it, “taking on the new man.” So I feel confident that as someone who had lived a life of service to God both in the church and in her home, as a wife, mother, grandparent, and even great grandparent, she modeled everything that could possibly be modeled and left a legacy for generations to follow.
One of the things about her that will stick out for me is that she was of a generation that believed in conveying the truth that God is in everything and that you honor that truth. Whether it was acknowledging Him in the thunderstorm that ripped through the night, by turning off all the lights and any appliances in the home, like radios and televisions; or be it praying late at night, you were going to reverence God as being in control of your situations.
I watched her over the years, first and foremost as the loving homemaker and wife to my grandfather. I have no idea how she was able to have the strength to raise nine children of a veteran, but she did. I saw how she cared for each of my aunts and uncles who lived with her until they were ready to move, tended to my mother who was widowed at a very young age, and even helped her neighbors.
In a time when you had washing machines that had the roller wringer to squeeze out the water from your clothes, I could remember my grandmother rescuing me wen I inadvertently got my fingers pinched by the machine. She also had to come the rescue when I accidentally burned my arm with an iron. I was so grateful that she knew how to treat the burn, as only a grandmother would. It was in watching her pray that I learned to value time with God.
There were even times when we as a family would travel, and you could be sure that she, in only a way that she could, would show you how to appreciate the simple things in where you were or what you were doing. Whether it was when we went to Canada, or to the Pocono Mountains, you’d always hear her say something that would make you think about what you were doing in a way you might not have considered before.
I say all of this today to give you all pause to think about the people closest to you, to treasure the moments you’re sharing, so that when the time comes when you must say farewell for the moment, it is in the spirit of joy of knowing that you created great memories that will last and live with you.
QUESTION: What memories are you treasuring of those who are near and dear to you?