true colors

On August 19, 2010 my grandma went to her true home, to be with Jesus. For the second time in 10 years, our family's vacation ended with an unplanned family reunion - at a funeral. At 92 years old, though Alzheimer's had clouded her mind, my grandma's heart and her beautiful character were crystal clear. One of my favorite stories to tell about my grandma involves an extreme act of generosity and thoughtfulness on her part. I was a broke college student (pardon the redundancy), and one Christmas when I came home for break she handed me an envelope. Inside was the money she had earned at a senior citizens' bake sale. She baked and sold her delicious zucchini and banana bread so that I could have some money to buy Christmas presents for my family. She knew that this was important to me, and her knowing made me feel so deeply loved.

A few months before she passed, I went to see her in the nursing home, and that particular day she was clearly somewhere else - another time and another place. She told me that she was praying about quitting her job. She wanted to spend more time with her family, and she was tired from working so much. She also kept talking about what she was going to prepare for dinner. She loved to cook for her family, and we loved it when she did - her pot roast dinners with perfect gravy, her delicious pumpkin bars with cream cheese icing. That day she kept asking when I was going to take her to the grocery store and what time everyone would arrive. As she was talking, another resident who had that same faraway look in his eyes wheeled past our door a couple of times and then parked himself right there in the doorway, just looking at me. My grandma noticed and told my mother and me that we should invite him in so she could offer him some coffee.

That day I saw clearly that, with or without Alzheimer's, three things were true about my grandma:
  • She was a woman who prayed about everything. She prayed for guidance, for strength and for those she loved. She prayed for me everyday for decades. And now she needed me to pray for her.
  • She loved her family, and spending time with all of us and caring for us made her truly happy.
  • She was an extraordinarily kind and generous woman, even to strangers in the hallway.

I believe with all my heart that my grandma is now fully alive and whole, and that I will see her again. And until then, I will do my best to live out her legacy.  I will seek God's guidance and live in dependence on Him.  I will remember what matters most, and keep family a priority.  And each day I will strive to love and serve the people God has placed in my life.

My grandma lived a very simple life.  And I believe that her example is simply the best way to live.