The Past and the Present1:52:00 PM
I've been thinking about my grandmom a lot lately.
Recently, my pastor taught through the verses in Timothy that the Lord had given me to confirm that I needed to stay home and serve my family- But if a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show godliness to their own household and to make some return to their parents, for this is pleasing in the sight of God. (1 Timothy 5:4 ESV) It's so refreshing to be able to just read the Bible and to know exactly what God's will is- because He definitely reveals it- and I know that it was God's will for me to learn to show godliness in my own household by taking care of the widow right in front of me. And it wasn't always easy and it definitely felt more spiritual to run off to serve at a senior high retreat for the weekend or to "clock out" of grandmom duty and head off to ESL class. But in reality neither are more spiritual- The Holy Spirit was necessary to enable me to love and serve my grandmom and change a dirty diaper and the Holy Spirit was necessary for me to open up the book of Hebrews with our girl's study group. What a blessing that season of life was filled with and there were so many things the Lord was able to work out in my heart for those four years.
Each time I take a leftover chicken carcass and fill with water and a variety of past-their-prime produce my beloved dutch oven my sister gave me at my bridal shower and simmer it for hours on the stove , I think of my grandmom. I think of her wrinkled arthritic hands that couldn't stop her from cracking open an egg into a pile of flour and taking her marble rolling pin from me as she scolded me to roll the dough thinner or I'll never get the noodles right. And then I would scold her to stop leaving her walker on the other side of the kitchen.
My grandmom would have loved my husband. Her German drive and discipline- she would have loved how hard working and focused and capable he is. In a lot of ways he reminds me of my grandpop- when he sets his mind to something, nothing can stop him. She would have thought he was so handsome too :) I wish they could have known each other. I especially do when I watch Mike interact with his grandparents- the inside jokes they have, the mutual respect they have for each other...watching Mike stop over on a Sunday afternoon to set up the Christmas tree he pulled from his grandparents basement so his grandpop wouldn't have to make excuses for why he wasn't going to have one this year -when really his heart was just too weak to take the exertion it would require. Or sitting in the back seat while Mike takes his grandmom for a special Starbucks run for her favorite Vanilla Bean Frappuccinno , not just as a "payment" for her sitting through a few hours of interviewing as a special surprise gift for his parents for Christmas, but as a nod to the countless times she had a treated him after sleepovers and game nights. And the little playful banter I get to watch every Sunday between Mike and his truly favorite roommate he has ever had, his Nana- Sunday is the traditional Nana's dinner after church (which is actually lunchtime) that hasn't stopped being a tradition even though Nana turned 90 last September.
Living with grandmom taught me about hospitality and homemaking and the importance of a full pot of coffee for the physical therapist that walked through our doors- a pot to be shared- the community and conversations it would bring. I learned the power of fresh baked cookies for the Bible study group meeting at my house and the welcome of a warm roaring fire inviting the family to sit in front of for good conversation. It taught me about family and the value of gathering around the table for dinner ( or bringing it alongside a hospital bed when necessary) and it allowed me to experience the blessing of the family of Christ to come alongside with a warm meal when we were grieving and heartbroken.
My grandmom made our house a home and it definitely took awhile to adjust to her home being "empty"-her presence in our home literally made it necessary to be present. There was always someone home, the door was always open, the coffee was always brewing. Seasons change. But my grandmother's legacy lives on each time I walk into my parents home, her old home, and am welcomed in for a cup of hot tea and a seat by the fire.
And, Lord willing, my husband and I will begin our house hunt in a couple months. A first home. And the first two things at the top of my list would have to be a fireplace in the heart of the home and an open kitchen that is accommodating to serving large dinner parties of family and friends- to invite them in to share in the hefty pot of soup, the kind whose smell permeates your lungs with minute you step in from the cold and whose rich stock can only be attributed to hours of flavors melding and being pulled from the wealth that is found in some residual chicken bones and some vegetables who were only days from the compost pile.
I just think- the hours at the bedside of a dementia patient, the visits to the telemetry unit in St. Mary's hospital, the ambulance rides and free ER hot chocolate, the wheelchairs and walkers and diapers and prescriptions, the therapy home visits, the birthday party in a hospital family meeting room, the rehabs, my dad putting on a pot of coffee just to motivate me to get out of bed in the morning to another day of the same, to the quiet days watching Charles Stanley and Rachael Ray and Wheel of Fortune, the days of confused German gibberish stirred on by a round of steroids, the videos and pictures and family gathered around a hospice bedside to say their last goodbyes...what a sweet aroma was cultivated from four years of a life that much of society would deem as "worthless" and past her usefulness. Like the long hours of a slow simmer necessary to break down the collagen-rich joints for a good stock filled with minerals as well as deep flavor, the longsuffering and trial and wrestling we experienced in those years were necessary to produce the beauty and flavor and heritage instilled in us through our Grandmom's deterioration...It was perhaps more fruitful than all of her years of being busy as a wife and mother and gardener and homemaker, not to discount those years- there was so much to learn from her then, but the Lord used those "weaker" years to bear so much fruit in all of our lives and for that I am so thankful to Him and for her.
Today she would have been 86 and I'm thankful that the last four years have been her receiving eternal reward from our Heavenly Father and of us bearing the fruit of what was rooted out and sown into and cultivated in our lives for four life-changing years.