|My beautiful Gram... always put together with lipstick and earrings and never far from her purse. :)|
I lived with my grandmother for years, off and on, during my childhood and teen years. She was the rock of the family, holding us together with her gentle reminders of God's love and grace. She would find the silver lining in the storm clouds and her laughter, mingled with Grampa's, would bounce of the walls of the ol' homestead nestled up on the hill. She was a farmer's wife, she was well acquainted with long days, hard work, and lots of prayer. Each day began the same... before the sun even crested the sky, coffee in hand, breakfast on the table and a well worn black leather bound Bible lay open. Gramma and Grandpa would steep themselves in God's Word for in it they knew they would find LIFE giving, LIFE changing, words.
The years ticked on. Grandpa died suddenly from an aneurism to the brain at the age of 56... and life stopped. The farm was shut down, the house on the hill still stood, due to it's firm foundation, however the laughter no longer rang out. Gram changed. The light in her eyes began to fade as she puttered about the house, tidying and cleaning... her steps no longer light, the sting of death had reached her doorstep and yet each morning would start out the same. A cup of coffee, a black leather bound Bible, and HOPE filled words to buoy an aching and weary soul.
For your steadfast love is before my eyes,
and I walk in your faithfulness.
Gram's rosy complexion begins to fade, a few more wrinkles have settled in, gray hair is turning white, and what began as dementia is now replaced by Alzheimers. She does not always remember my name and conversation is hard to make. I am embarrassed to admit that I do not visit as often as I used to. What was once comfortable is now uncomfortable. I do not know what to say. What used to be routine for her has now become difficult and she is dependent on others for help. She no longer lives in the house on the hill, but she lives with family, even though she may not recognize them as such.
I have to get beyond myself, beyond my uncomfortable feelings so I do not miss out on being with her. There is still so much to learn, just by sitting in the quiet, listening, watching, and waiting for that moment of recognition... that window where we can have some conversation back and forth.
|Me and my Gram... we share the same blue eyes and the same love for our Savior.|
I walk through the door and she smiles... "Hello dear, it is so good to see you and your family."
The children go out to play and I sit beside this beautiful woman who has carried her share of burdens, who has raised five children in a Godly home, who has twelve grandchildren, and 21 great grandchildren and has had several foster children in her time. I see her and I remember...
I remember those days of baking with her side by side in the kitchen, the times we would spend together up in the field picking berries and then selling them at the stand. I remember the way Grampa would chase her around the house seeking out a kiss, the way she would play the piano and sing without abandon, the twinkle in her eye as she spied Grampa coming down from the fields. I remember sitting at the table next to her as we would draw together and she would help me with my letters and numbers. I remember her words of wisdom before my wedding day as she gave me her blue garter and the pot and pan set that her parents gave her as a wedding gift. I remember her... she is still there, it just takes a little bit to find her again.
She does not always remember who her husband was, she may think her parents are still alive, she may not know her children's names or how many she has brought into this world, but one thing remains the same... she begins each day with a cup of coffee and a black leather bound Bible... pouring over and treasuring JOY giving words, words of life, words of hope, words that ring out familiar and true. The Joy of the Lord IS her strength, God's TRUTH has been firmly planted in her heart and so no matter how muddled her brain may become, no matter how many memories Alzheimer's steals away she knows what is true, and sound, and she knows the source of her joy.
My Gram has built her life on the rock of Jesus Christ and nothing can shake that - no disease, no amount of loss in this life can tear HIS everlasting love from her, that is why she smiles and rejoices.
She may not know me as "Dawna" but she says "Thank you for visiting Dear. I love you and your precious family."
" I love you too Grammy, thank you for visiting with me today. I will see you again soon."
" That will be nice dear, that will be nice."
I kiss her on the forehead and walk out to my van with wet eyes and a heart that is bursting with joy. Forgive me Lord for being so foolish that I would keep myself away from this precious gift you have given me. Bless my Grammy dear Lord, for all she is, for all she has done and for all she is doing even now as she copes with this disease. May all who know her see the source of her strength and may they turn to you. Amen.
Who are you keeping yourself from due to the circumstances being uncomfortable? A relative in a nursing home? A friend with Down Syndrome? The crippled girl at church? Please learn a lesson from me, do not deprive yourself from such an amazing gift...
The Lord bless you and keep you my friends,