A year or so ago both my beloved grandmothers died.
Gran had a fall at home and after several months in hospital slipped away frail and withdrawn. I painted her nails each time I visited but she had lost any recognition of us.
True to form she remembered Dave, he is a teacher ! A teacher like Gran, a teacher like my mother. Gran valued education above all else. but her last moments on this earth were fitful and restless.In the end it was her mind that went first. Grandma “at the beach” on the other hand, had a massive heart attack. She had been sick and frail for much of her life , though sturdy of character she was bent over and bald. She had worn a wig for as long as I remember.
Her lifetime of sickness had made her a little misunderstood by her family and even her church community I think. What do you do with the Christian woman who doesn’t get healed? For those of us in the family who were atheist the notion of a Christian with ongoing illness just didnt seem to compute.
To add to the seeming anomaly Grandma was a divorce,’ back in the days when that was simply not proper.
She also took in borders! Not that there was anything lurid going on, she simply needed to find ways to support her two children. She never learnt to drive a car. Nursed her mother and cared for her abusive father and outlived all seven of her brothers. She faithfully attended church every Sunday, and prayer group and bible study during the week. Sang in the church choir and grew geraniums which she would say were as beautiful as any rose. She was not trendy or clever but she could cook and sing and pray!
She had prayed for her son who went to prison in Thailand, and died in the America, she prayed for her daughter my mother and she prayed for me , her only grandchild.
It was a great joy to me to get to know her as an adult Christian woman new in my faith and to be able to share faith with one another. On many occasions God used her in my life to bring balance and perspective. I can still remember her saying “Don’t you quote scripture at me young lady “
Then God would convict me also and I would get down from my high horse and apologize ,but nothing brought as much Godly perspective to me as grandma’s death.
The last time I saw Grandma was in the hospital after her stroke. As I entered the room I could see her wig on the side table. She was bald and her tongue protruding from the corner of her mouth. Her eyes were open but slightly rolled back in her head, vacant but fixed on the ceiling.
When I entered the room I was overcome with the sense that she was in that moment, the most beautiful thing I had ever seen! The presence of God was so thick on her that I wanted to hop into bed and lay beside her , but I worried I would tear her thin skin. As I leant over to kiss her face I felt God saying to grandma “Well done good and faithful servant.”
At her funeral, the small church was filled with people. Telegrams came from all over the world from people who had boarded with grandma. They had remained in contact with her for years. Many spoke of her great faith and love for Jesus.
At her wake the ladies group provided an amazing array of homemade sweets and treats just like I had nibbled on as a child. We drank tea in china tea cups and celebrated her life together .
As we gathered our things to leave a young man approached me flustered and apologetic.
“Are you Coral May’s granddaughter ? I am sorry to interrupt like this !” he continued “ sorry to come to the funeral without an invitation… but you see I had to tell you, I had to let you know;
In the last days before your grandmother died I was at the hospital and she spoke to me about Jesus and I gave my heart to him! I had to let you know I have been going to church ever since!”
That’s Gods perspective on the matter! That’s what I want. Not her infirmities but rather her faith and her willingness to speak and preach the love of Jesus to who might have ears to hear. Grandmas death has reminded me that Christ does not measure a life by the same rule as mankind.