This has not been the week that many expected to be having.
When I think back over this last week, and even over the last few years, and the loved ones we have lost – I pause to remember.
I want to remember their lives, their faces, their funny quirks, their love for the Lord…and the unique gifts that shined through them.
To remember means “to have in or be able to bring to one’s mind an awareness of someone or something that one has seen, known, or experienced in the past.”
I can bring to mind, so easily, what if felt like to be hugged by my Papaw.
I can remember feeling so special and thought of when we would walk through Mamaw’s door, and she would have her chocolate pie waiting for us.
I remember being encouraged, strengthened, and consistently challenged by a brother, friend, and mentor – “Praise looks good on you!”
I remember the prayers and support of a faithful prayer warrior. I remember what it felt like to hear him sing in worship as he stood behind me at church.
I remember the faith and ultimate trust in God of a woman who joyfully lived her life…even to the end. Her smile was contagious and her laugh was infectious.
Everyone processes differently. Everyone has their own journey when it comes to grieving.
For me – I write. With pen in hand, I just start writing…memories, things they said, qualities I admired, seeds they sowed into my life…
I write the things I never want to forget.
Yes, it hurts. Yes, it’s hard. Yes, it brings tears…but it also brings healing.
This past Friday morning my sweet Gramma went to be with Jesus.
A million “I remember’s” flood my mind….
I remember her sneaking prune juice into my tea bear (a honey bear re-purposed as the perfect drinking cup for Gramma’s sweet tea) and then handing it to me, “Here’s your tea,” she said with a grin. Imagine the shock! I was always nervous about taking the first sip of tea after that!
I remember giving her a hard time about wearing pants. You see, Gramma wore dresses – at all times, for all occasions, no matter where she was or what she was doing. Every birthday and Christmas I threatened to buy her a pair of jeans, “You can buy em’ but I ain’t gonna wear em’!”
She, often, reminded me that I was the only grandchild she ever spanked, and I always told her that must be why I turned out so great.
I remember how she loved playing with our daughters…we’d often come in the house and walk through the kitchen and she would be hiding – ready to pop out and make the girls laugh.
I can see her sitting on her corner of the couch crocheting…always crocheting.
I am thankful for the suppers around her table, the ice cream dates we took in the afternoon, the nights sleeping on her couch, the days studying in her kitchen…
I am thankful for the warmth of her home and the tender love from her heart.
And the memories just keep going on and on….
What’s been so special to me is the fact that it’s not hard to remember – it’s not hard to find a memory.
One of the lessons I have learned from my Gramma’s life is to make memories with the people in your life.
These memories will be what you cherish and hold dear forever.
May we never be afraid to love because we’re afraid it will hurt later…love freely and deeply.
Let us love our families well. Gramma did this – she loved us well and created memories and moments for us. From tea bears to a love for His word, she was a consistent presence in my life – always loving and encouraging me.
Pull your family close; create memories; love each other well.
Every time I think of the empty space I feel in my heart without my grandparents – it is filled with the memories we shared together – and I wouldn’t trade that for anything.
One of my other favorite memories of Gramma is how she would sing.
When I spent the night with Gramma and Papaw…I’d wake up early the next morning to her singing as she cooked breakfast….“Because He lives, I can face tomorrow. Because He lives, all fear is gone.”
She wasn’t necessarily a “singer”…she wasn’t on stage, she wasn’t in the spot light, she didn’t have the voice of a superstar, but her song – it was the most beautiful sound.
Her stage was her home, and her audience was her family.
She was always singing…when she cooked, when she was cleaning, when just just “piddled” (as she would call it) around the house…I loved catching her singing hymns and worshipping the Lord. It was the most beautiful sound.
A few years ago when Papaw passed away the singing stopped.
For a long time I didn’t hear it…then one day I was at the kitchen table and she was washing dishes, and I heard it…she was singing again.
Tears streamed down my face as I listened to the faint whisper of her song, “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow. Because He lives, all fear is gone. Because I know He holds the future. And life is worth the living just because He lives.”
I knew in that moment, that even in her grief and brokenness and even through her battle with Alzheimers, there was a still a fight in her.
From that day on, she kept singing for as long as she could.
Her love for the Lord ran deep…she was rooted and grounded in Christ and His love…and she found her song again.
Right now I am holding close all my memories. As a family, we have laughed and cried over the last few days. There is comfort and healing in both.
I want to honor my precious Gramma’s life by following the example of her consistent life.
She consistently loved, worshipped, and served the Lord. She consistently opened her door to others. She consistently made space for you. She consistently loved her husband. She consistently worked hard in her home. She consistently loved and encouraged her family. She consistently wore dresses…probably not gonna do this one, but she was consistent with it! She consistently ate vanilla cones…this one, we’ll probably have to do more often!
I will make memories with my family, and I will keep singing…because I had a grandmother who did both so very well.