My friend, Monica, recognized her grandmothers on her blog a couple of months ago, and I thought that was a fantastic idea! My maternal mother is my only living, blood grandparent. She is 94, and this morning had a TIA, or mini-stroke. She was admitted to the hospital this morning for further tests, including an MRI, and she has had a rough day. She had another TIA, or possibly a series of them again this evening. She is very precious to me, and since all I can think about today is her I thought maybe it would be cathartic to write about her.
She was a unique woman for her generation. She didn't marry until her early 30s, and had my mom (her 1st born) at age 36. During her single days, she attended Moody Bible Institute. After graduating, she came back to Texas and reunited with her high school sweetheart. They married, and she became a nurse and a Pastor's wife.
When I was a little girl, I went to their house in Abilene, TX, a couple of weeks every summer. My family always tried to coordinate my visit with my cousin, Chad, who is 3 years younger than me. Those were joyous times, full of scrabble, dominoes, jigsaw puzzles, and tennis. Grandma always cooked yummy Bisquick chicken 'n dumplings, made me eat canned peaches, and had the cookie jar full when I got there. We always had to put newspaper down on the coffee table in order to eat there.
When I was 8, I went to a Vacation Bible School at my grandparents' church. My grandmother taught me the verse Revelation 3:20, which says, "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me." A week later at a G.A. camp that verse pricked my heart during an invitation time, and I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.
When I was 11, my cousin Chad & I took a train trip with our grandparents to visit the rest of our family in California. On that trip, my grandfather's Alzheimer's became evident. He lived 11 years after that, and my grandmother was a faithful and loving nursemaid to him. Last year I was going through a painful time, and she opened up to me like she never had. She said at the height of Grandpa's illness, she was very lonely. No one was helping, and she was doing all the work by herself. She said, "Alicia, I wouldn't change that time of my life because I grew closer to the Lord than I had ever before."
If my math is right, it's been 12 years since my grandfather died, and she has had to carve out a new life for herself. I would go visit her at her retirement home and see her at age 87 telling someone about Christ. I confidently label my grandmother an evangelist.
And then the most recent videos that keep playing in my mind are the times she and Samantha had together while we were living in Dallas. We would go to visit, and Samantha walked straight to Grandma's room to see the "birds". Grandma had ceramic birds, and she would bring every one down and tell Samantha what kind of bird it was (red bird, blue jay, etc). Samantha would repeat each thing Grandma said and study her every word. The other routine they had was curlers. Grandma would put those old fashioned curlers in Samantha's hair, and she would sit so still while Grandma did it. Then Sam would walk around like her hair was SO pretty and look at herself in the mirror.
My mother is fantastic at scrabble, I'll work a jigsaw puzzle any day, and Samantha still points out every bird she sees. It's cool to see these "pieces" of my grandmother carried on in us. But what's awesome is to look over the course of her life and know that she ran the race, and she didn't stop running when it would have been easy or socially acceptable. "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:2