I have the distinct honor of being the first living grandchild on both sides of my immediate family. I am also the first niece and eldest cousin. My formative years were spent in a home with my grandma.
My mom tells me that when I was just a baby my grandmother was very ill and since my mom was often occupied helping her younger brothers and sisters, I was left in the care of my grandmother fairly often.
Since my grandma was of ill-health at the time, being in ‘her care’ meant that I laid on the bed alongside her. Thus began the relationship with the woman I regarded as a ‘bonus mom’. I was pretty close to grandma all her life.
Grandmother called “mommy” was the matriarch of our world. She ruled with an iron fist yet she was kind and gentle, discipline however was non-negotiable.
There were always extended family and friends at our home and she would ensure each person was welcomed.
Mommy taught me that about the love of God, many of the scriptures I know today I first heard her quoting as a child. I learned that being respectful was highly valued and being kind and grateful were close seconds and thirds.
She taught me to persevere; I remember in school when I was tired and did not want to pursue studying she would often quote Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “The heights by great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight, but they, while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night”.
I smile now as I write this, that woman, my grandmother spoke in parables more than plain words and somehow I seemed to have been paying rapt attention. Whenever I have wanted to quit as a child and then a young woman I would just hear her voice in my head encouraging me.
And so I would stay up late and study on.
Back then I did not always appreciate the lessons, but in retrospect, I am so grateful.
Now in middle years the words of my grandmother still ring true. I have been an attentive student all my life and even though I have not lived with her since I was fourteen years old I have been schooled well at her feet. She was the guiding force in my life, my tutor and a pivotal catalyst for who I am today.
Even though I left the country of my birth many decades ago, I would frequently call grandma on the phone and each of my kids would be on a plane for grandma to meet and bless as soon as they could travel there.
My grandma once told me, “I pray for you every day”. What a wonderful gift to give, to pray God’s protection and blessings for someone everyday! But that’s what grammas do!
I have a picture of grandma’s ‘celebration of life’ program in my bathroom. It is one the first faces I look at everyday and it brings me joy because God gave her to us for a time.
Grandma left this life on June 22, 2009 and though a piece of me has left with her I will forever fondly remember the many lessons she thought.