“Grandmother is the sweetest living being I’ve ever experienced. No offense everybody.” ~my son
I am incredibly wealthy. You read that correctly. I am filthy rich, loaded, flush, BOOMING.
I am a woman of great wealth—not the usual green paper kind either so don’t get too excited.
I have the gift of a ninety-two year old woman in my life…a woman I call Grandmother.
Grandmother stands at about 4’10” and probably weighs 90 pounds. But don’t be deceived by her diminutive appearance, because within this small form lives a spirit of profound greatness and strength.
She has always kept it real. I mean Grandmother was real before it was popular to be real—before Brené Brown did her research on shame and vulnerability (research for which I am eternally grateful).
GM married my Grandaddy when she was a teenager. He was a teenager as well and was in the Navy. He is wearing his classic Navy uniform in their honeymoon picture. BE STILL MY HEART!
Aside from Navy life, Grandaddy was a cowboy. He married my Grandmother and they ranched in West Texas (not easy living folks). I’m gonna let you in on a little secret. Ranchers, especially young ranchers that are leasing a ranch and do not own it do not make that much money. So, in order to feed and clothe the family, Grandaddy took on extra work doing all sorts of physical labor while GM stayed with the FOUR children in a home in West Texas with no air conditioner.
Now that I have painted a picture I want to gift you with some of the pearls I have gathered from sitting at her feet:
Love shows up.
For me, this looked like my GM and GD driving 430 miles from their ranch outside of Sheffield to Houston, picking me and my siblings up and driving the 430 miles back to Houston. In the summer we would attend church camp WITHOUT FAIL. In the winter we would be at the ranch with 30 plus cousins, aunts, uncles and a huge tree under which EVERYONE could find a present with their name on it.
Showing up looked like regular phone calls, handwritten letters (which I still have and you can see a sample below), pats, hugs, kisses and conversations at Steak and Ale or Red Lobster where they asked questions about me and listened. Let me just tell you it feels good for someone to ask about you and actually listen.
Love was showing up when I cheered at football games. I was the flyer because I was skinny and managed not to fall most of the time. Imagine my cowboy GD and perfectly coiffed GM sitting in the stands at Delmar Stadium in Houston, TX circa 1996 while I did the Harlem Shuffle on the field.
Did I mention the 430 mile drive AND they were ranchers? They showed up BIG time.
Kindness is Sweet’s wiser friend.
I think sweet tells you what you want to hear while kindness firmly and unapologetically tells you what you need to hear. Kindness encourages growth. Sweet leaves a sour taste in your mouth which hopefully prompts you to go brush your teeth. Now, don’t get me wrong, sweet has its place. But, it does not stand alone well and needs the strength of kindness to highlight its worth.
Kindness is Empathy’s friend. Empathy sits with you in your pain and says, “me too” while Kindness holds your hand or strokes your hair.
Kindness invites the outsider in, befriends the lonely, sees the hurting and does something.
Kindness is the action we all so desperately need, not the sentiment of sweetness.
Love the church.
This one has not been easy for me at all.
But, GM, I don’t like church people, they can be hoity-toity, narrow minded, too quick to give unsolicited advice and JUDGY. They follow tradition and try to put Jesus in a box! Don’t church people know Jesus went right into places of discomfort and suffering?
Were I to voice this, GM would respond with no words just a look. A look that says you are part of that mess and remember the part about love and showing up? You better jump right in that mess and take full part. That is your family and that is the Bride of Christ. Alone you are nothing, but together? We are the hands and feet of Jesus in this world.
Laugh and laugh often.
Life is funny. People are funny. I am funny and hardly ever when I am trying to be. I think the ancient art of laughing at oneself is one of the cheapest and most effective forms of therapy. I am not talking about unhealthy self-deprecation where you call yourself a loser and beat yourself up. That’s not funny. I am talking about taking enjoyment in ones quirks and foibles. Fully embracing ones uniqueness and inviting others in to laugh and enjoy my hot mess. The key difference I see is viewing oneself in the light of grace.
Read your Bible and pray.
GM, to this day, wakes up around 4:00 in the morning to pray. She prays for ALL of her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, great-great grandchildren AND their spouses. She prays people. It is her personal time with God, so honestly I don’t know what all she prays for, but I do know it is powerful.
I can not tell you how many memories I have of GM sharing the Bible with me. She made it a point to tell me and my siblings my Dad’s favorite Bible verse.
Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired and weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
Now, it must be relayed that my precious Dad died at the age of 36. GM always shares him with us and helps us know him.
But she is on to something with this reading your Bible business. Such a brutiful story. Now it can be rough if you get stuck in Leviticus or Numbers, but push through to the end and you will meet this God who is all-powerful and tireless in His love. This God does not leave us but literally meets us in our weakness, in our mess and tells us we are good and we are worthy.
I genuinely hope you all have been blessed with a GM like mine. I hope if you have, you recognize her for the priceless gem she is and call her on the phone or visit her as often as you can.