This is not a sappy, sad, bring you down kind of post. It is truly my heartfelt feelings about a woman so dear to me. A woman I was not ready to let go of. I am sharing this simply as inspiration.
Stay with me.
As an adult when I pray I can go on and on when I’m having my moments of conversation with God. The words overflow in my mind and the message I have to say is never ending. These conversations are sometimes so lengthy that I will fall asleep in the middle of my prayer and wake up later to apologize to God. But I know He knows what I wanted to say, even if I did not get to finish my prayer.
Lenny sometimes teases me and asks if I leave voicemails for God. If I could, I probably would. Maybe it is a family thing…
I remember Grandmother telling me stories about my mother as a child and how she called the operator once to talk to God when she was a young girl. They lived in Alaska and it had been snowing for days. The operator wanted to know why she needed to talk to God and my mother matter of factly told the operator she needed God to stop the snow so she could go outside and play.
Nonetheless, it was when I was a little girl that my long winded prayers to God started. I would pray every night before I went to sleep. My prayers started out very ‘traditional’. The one that many of us likely said as a child. The words hung on a velvet tapestry near my bed. ‘Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep…’
After this prayer I always followed with a message to God. This message started out the same every single night, word for word- please protect my family, protect my friends, and protect everyone I love. And please, let my Grandmother live for ever and ever, Or at lease until I die, and then God you can make her an angel.
For years I said this prayer. The words never changing. I honestly thought that I could persuade God of all the reasons I needed her here on Earth.
It was not until I was an adult that I truly understood the selfishness of wanting life on Earth forever. All I could see was that I did not want this world to be without my Grandmother- as a very special person to me. I needed and wanted access to her forever.
Memories of my Grandmother pour through my mind. She was a God fearing Christian and her love and passion for the Lord started at such a young age.
She went to church ever Sunday as a young girl. She was raised by her Grandparents, as she lost her mother while still an infant to Tuberculosis. Her father visited regularly, but there were five daughters to raise. Grandmother and her grandparents went to morning service and then in the afternoon they were back at church for Tabernacle. They then went back for evening service- this was every single Sunday.
Her grandparents raised chickens and every change Grandmother had, she would pass her messages of the Lord on to these chickens. To quote her, she would preach to them ‘Hell Damnation’. She told them all about God’s word and made sure they listened.
Well, once she preached to them she had to save them- ensuring they had Jesus in their hearts. And of course, once she saved them, she had to baptize them, like a good little Baptist gal. She dunked those chickens one by one and prayed along the way that her grandparents would not catch her and give her a good ol‘ fashion whooping.
Grandmother went on to raise ten children- five boys and five girls. Actually, she lost one of her sons at the tender age of nine in a drowning accident on a military base. It was something that affected her for the rest of her life. Blame, guilt, and all the what if’s. I remember Jackie’s birthday being a very hard day for her each year- until the end.
Death is something God never intended for humans to cope with. When God created Adam and Eve eternal life is what he had in mind, but the scripture tells is things were forever changed when they ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, ‘for when you eat of it, you will surely die’. He made this clear. And Romans reminds us ‘just as sin entered the world through man, and death is through sin, in this way death came to all men’.
Knowing this sometimes we are still scared. As a child I was scared. Eternity somewhere else was not something I could understand or comprehend. As an adult I now do. And, at the long-lived age of ninety years old, it was something my Grandmother understood.
Her preacher, Brother John, would tell you she was prepared. She had everything in order. And, if she thought of something else- another song, another scripture, another important detail for her service, or just needed to run everything by him one more time, she called him.
We all celebrated her 90th birthday together. Family from all over the states came to Texas to be with her for this very important milestone. She looked the best she had looked in a handful of years. Then, just a few weeks later there came a time when I no longer knew what to pray for as her health quickly began to slip yet again. I wanted to beg God to continue to heal her body and make her healthy and for everything to be well again. Watching her in her final years was so very hard to see. So difficult to understand why things had changed so much. The memories of her standing without a walker or not sitting in a wheelchair seemed so long ago. It made me mad. I wanted more than anything for her to get out of bed and be Grandmother again. I wanted to recreate history. My naive mind did not want to understand this was all for my sake and not hers. She never indulged her ego at the expense of her soul. She knew this Earth was not her home and now I do as well.
There finally came a point where I understood what I needed to pray for- that was comfort.
Grandmother knew something that I did not. ‘We fix our eyes not on what is seen, but in what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.’ Now she is our angel for eternity. She is in heaven with a crown of jewels shining as far as the eye can see.
She was a loving daughter, an attentive granddaughter, a valued sister, a devoted mother, a God fearing Christian, a loyal wife, a thoughtful aunt, an admired grandmother and a generous friend and neighbor. I miss her every single day, but comfort is what she longed for and heaven is where she shall be.
Lord, remind me how brief my time on Earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered and that my life is fleeing away.
(The picture on this post is of Grandmother, Maxine Helen Troy, circa 1916. I look at her baby face and see so many of my children. She left her mark forever, in our hearts and in the spirits and images of our children. God Bless You!)