Grandma died last night. As I type the words, I can hardly believe this day has finally come. She is, or was, ninety-eight years old, so for the past several years we’ve known that this day will come…sooner than later. Each time I visit her, I wonder if it might be my last. Yet she has been strong ~ both physically and mentally ~ up until this past year. Even this past year, as she has faced some physical setbacks and moved from independent living to assisted living and finally into a medical unit, she has remained incredibly strong. A rock.
If anyone has entered their final years prepared for death, it is Grandma. Since the day her husband of sixty-nine years died, she has been anticipating her chance to join him, and to meet her Maker. At the age of ninety-five she wrote a two-hundred page book, My Story: Reflections of Life and Faith, as a written legacy for her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and future generations. Her belongings have been carefully sorted through, and those things special have been passed along intentionally and lovingly to her two children and five living grandchildren. All other belongings have been donated and given away. She was ready to go.
Yet, as prepared as she was, it is still hard to say good-bye. She was a beautiful woman, inside and out. She lived her life gracefully and graciously. She prayed daily, until her dying day I believe, for her children and spouses, grandchildren and spouses, and great-grandchildren. She was a woman of faith and who loved the Lord her God with all her heart and mind and soul. These past twelve years I have been blessed to live only a few hours away from her. My husband and children have had the privilege of getting to know her. We’ve had several years of spending Mother’s Day with her and celebrating her birthdays together. All of these interactions have been a gift.
I could go on and reflect much more about her life and the person that she was. But my brother also already done that beautifully in his blog (click here to read). There is no need to add more to what he has already said.
Instead, I will share her words. The final chapter in her book is called “Postlude: My Legacy.” This swan song of hers, this gift to her family, is a wonderful way to catch a glimpse into who she was. And the gift she was to all of us. Grandma writes:
We enter sometimes what one writer calls the “Winter Season” of our life. We either move forward or fall backward by journeying through the changes and challenges with Him.
Life is a spiritual discipline. When I think of the ways God has walked in my own life teaching me about His all sufficiency, His grace and His providential care, I am amazed how I have learned some of my deepest lessons through unexpected and unwanted circumstances. Jean De Caussade said it best in this short sentence: “Everything that happens to me is either soap to cleanse me, fire to purify me, or a chisel to fashion me into the likeness of Christ, but it requires our own active engagement with God in the process.” Defeat wrought good in Joshua’s life. May we not say as much for our own defeats? Each valley of Achor had its door of hope. Through one’s sin we have learned as never before to appreciate God’s forgiveness, through failure I have been taught my own weakness and led to magnify the grace which is made perfect in weakness.
Here are just a few of the bible promises I have lived by:
“My grace is sufficient for you; my strength is made perfect in your weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
“Lo I am with you always.” Matthew 28:20
“Cast your burdens upon the Lord and He shall sustain you; He shall never suffer the righteous to fall.” Psalm 55:22
“Be anxious for nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace which passeth understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6,7
I find myself daily quoting, sometimes singing, from a chorus these words:
I do not ask to choose my path/Lord lead me in Thy way/Inspire each thought and prompt each word/And make me a blessing today.
I would say these words to father [her husband] as he would stand in the doorway ready to start out on his visitation.
I have many hallowed memories of the past and I wish to be loyal to this heritage and refuge of my ancestors through many generations and desire to leave this legacy to my progeny. Also I believe we cannot leave a more important legacy than our own dear children. Both John and Miriam are fine examples.
If he were living I know Father would agree with me. He would also join me in saying we had a wonderful near 69 years of married life together plus nearly four years of courtship and engagement.
My mother would occasionally remind one of this quote: “Do no pray for easy lives – pray to be stronger men. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers; pray for power equal to your task.”
I found this thought in today’s devotional reading and think it is an insight worth including herein. “The sons of God take part in suffering with Christ. When Bishop Lattimer was told by his landlord that he never had a trouble, Lattimer said, ‘God cannot be here, suffering is part of the process by which the sons of God are sanctified. The Captain of their salvation was ‘made perfect through suffering’ and so are they. Well said Philip Melanchthon: ‘Where there are no cares there will generally be no prayers.'”
Since we have no riches to bequeath to our family, I would like to think that Father’s and my lifelong trust in a prayer hearing and prayer answering God could be our legacy. “To Thy loving guardianship, O Holy Father, I commit my dear family to you. Grant them a sense of Thy reality and power.”
From Deuteronomy 8:20 we read “Thou shalt remember all the ways which the Lord thy God hath led these 40 years.” Ninety-five plus years for me as I write these words; eighty-seven from my Christian commitment.
Grandma, you will be missed. Yet you have left us all a wonderful legacy. I am blessed to have you as my grandmother. I rejoice with you today as you have finally made it home. I can only imagine God’s words to you as you entered His kingdom: “Well done, good and faithful servant.”