An Open Love Letter to my Grandmother

Dear Granny,

The world already seems discombobulated without you in it, and selfishly, I miss you.  I miss sitting in the floor by your monitor heater, simultaneously laying my head in your lap.  I miss asking you about your day even though your response was always some variation of, “Ya know, I’ve just been dawdling around here.”  I miss you asking me to go sit on the porch with you even if you did not feel well, because you somehow knew I was secretly hoping you’d ask.  There is a void in my heart that will never be full without these things.

But, I would not bring you back to this world; you have already served it well.

You were always scared of nursing homes, and you were intentionally independent.  I know that it is no coincidence that you went home to be with Jesus merely hours before you were scheduled to be transferred from a regular hospital room to the resident nursing home.  You did not even know that’s where you were going.

But God did.

As painful as it is to feel this way (and even more so to write it, because writing something always makes it official), I love God for His mercy.  You devoted your life to taking care of other people, and you never wanted anyone else to take care of you.  You would not even let us buy you Dunkin Donuts without offering to pay us (plus extra “for our trouble’).  You only relented when we distracted you and mentioned that the glorious variety box had a delectable Boston Cream doughnut inside with your name on it.

You continually held joy and contentment, and a nursing home would have stolen that— your very identity— from you.  I’m certain Jesus hasn’t taken any part of you other than your fragile little body, and even though you have only been with Him for a short time, I’m sure that your joy has been made whole.  You are complete.

I have spent the last two days pondering my memories with you.  I am so grateful for who you were and what you taught me.  I could never say, “thank you” enough, but here’s my futile attempt at trying.

Thank you for teaching me to love simple things.  I often fall victim to thinking I have to “do something” or “be something” worth being.  You were content in loving your family and working hard, and your legacy reminds me that life is not about achieving.  Love is what matters most.

Speaking of family, thank you for showing me that investing in people and extending genuine hospitality is important.

You were not materialistic, but you taught me to take care of my possessions and appreciate heirlooms.  Among my favorite things you’ve ever given me are my cake platter, punch bowl, and pearl bracelet, and I will cherish them forever.  (Just not as much as I will cherish you.)

Thank you for always being interested in knowing people, really knowing them… not on a superficial, surface level.  You were so observant, and you loved to learn about what made people tick.  You found unique ways to make people feel special.  My very favorite memory of you involved an elaborate treasure hunt around your new home when I was probably four or five years old.  I do not even remember what my “prizes” were (probably little yard sale trinkets).  My biggest spoils of victory were the laughter and bliss that can only be come from a little girl spending a springtime afternoon with her grandmother.

Even though I was a rowdy teenager who turned into an occasionally temperamental adult, you never made me ruminate on my flaws.  You never tried to change anything about me, and you only spoke about the good parts of me, even if they are few.  You gave me confidence.

Thank you for sharing moments like my college graduation and my wedding with me.  I’ll remember them even more fondly knowing you were there.

Thank you for being a quiet leader.  You were the matriarch of our family, and you created a line of self-sufficient women.  Yet, you never felt it necessary to boast in your accomplishments.  You were okay with being in a room full of people without being the center of attention.  You did not have to be right or even be heard to feel validated or loved.  This is one part of you that I try to emulate most, but it will take me awhile.

The other part of you that I try my hardest to replicate is your kindness.  You were not only kind to the people you loved, but you showed grace and compassion to people you barely knew and even some people who had wronged you in the past.  You taught me that it benefits no one to hold grudges, because grudges become bitterness.

Thank you for showing me that education never stops, and that self-education is important.  You got your GED as an adult, but you loved books like Wuthering Heights and Gone with the Wind as a child.  In truth, you remembered more about their plots than I do, and I have two degrees in English.

Most of all, thank you for showing me what a genuine relationship with God looks like.  You showed me what it was like to walk in the spirit.  You taught me that God’s presence is not defined by our emotions or human eloquence; a simple “Thank You Lord for this food” or “Please protect my family today” is always enough, and our hearts are what God searches.

I love you, and if I ever have/adopt a daughter, I’d like to call her Adelaide.  I know that a part of you would hate the idea of a namesake because you are the most humble person I’ve ever known.  The other part of you would smile meekly with tears in your eyes, not knowing quite what to say.

I wish there was some way I could phone you in Heaven.  I know exactly what you’d say as you were about to hang up.

“Have a good day.  I wish it for you.”

I wish it for you too, Granny, but I know I don’t have to.  I doubt you could be any happier than you are at this moment.

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