Almost two years ago, my family and I said goodbye to one of the most precious ladies you could ever hope to meet. She was the heart of our church and a mother to many. Grandma Lillie had a way of making you feel special all over. After she passed away, my cousin and I reminisced about how awesome it was to walk up to her front door and see her face light up. Grandparents can be so incredibly special.
Yesterday was Grandparent’s Day, and I dedicate this post to grandmas and grandpas everywhere. I was blessed to know three of my four grandparents.
My maternal grandfather’s plane went down in the Bermuda triangle when my mom was thirteen. He was only thirty years old.
My maternal grandmother was the feisty type. You didn’t want to get on her bad side, but she would do anything in the world for you if she liked you. ~smile~ From the time I was twelve until I got my first job at fifteen, she would pick me up around noon on Fridays (I was homeschooled) and we would hang out for a few hours. As much as I enjoyed spending time with her, I didn’t drink it in enough and I didn’t ask enough questions. We lost her a few years later to cancer, and there is so much I would ask her now if I had the chance.
My paternal grandfather was a kidder. He was the kind that would bounce you on his knee and sing silly songs. He kept the house stocked with lemon yogurt. I’m not sure if he liked it much, but he knew I did. He was a good man and we all adored him. Nobody was a stranger to him and he was honest and hardworking. He also believed in tithing! In fact, after he retired, he got another job just so he could keep giving to the church. When I was ten, we lost him suddenly on a Monday afternoon. It was the first time I’d ever seen my Dad cry. His sudden death made an impression on me. Knowing that life can end so suddenly makes me more vigilant about cherishing the people I have in my life.
My paternal grandmother was one of my closest friends. When people say I look like her, I consider that quite the compliment. Some of my earliest memories are of staying with her while Mom and Dad worked. All my cousins are boys, so Granny and I spent a lot of time together. She probably dreamed of me taking an occasional nap instead of my being underfoot so much, but I just loved that woman to pieces. I would crawl up in her lap and rub her arms. I loved her soft, snuggly arms.
She truly lived out the Christian life in front of me. She played gospel music while she worked in the kitchen. You didn’t have to look too far to find her Bible. She disciplined me when I did wrong, and she gave lots of free hugs for no reason at all. But what I remember most about Grandma Lillie was her prayer life. If ever there was a woman who could pray down fire from Heaven, it was her; and, people asked her to pray constantly. When the machine that printed the bulletins broke down, someone from the church would call her to pray and it would start working again (true story). She had the favor of God on her life, and I believe He was well pleased with her childlike faith and genuine love for Him.
Their Influence on My Life
All of my grandparents, even the grandfather I never met, have influenced my life – all in different ways, but significantly nonetheless:
My maternal grandfather taught me that sticking it out is worth it. We can always look for the greener grass on the other side, but we will never find true satisfaction apart from Christ. Without Him, we will spend the rest of our lives searching for fulfillment.
My maternal grandmother taught me the value of education. She encouraged me to go to college, and would’ve been thrilled if I had gone for my doctorate. She didn’t want me to struggle financially, and she wanted me to marry a quality guy. The older I get, the more of her I see in me. She had a love for history, she was fascinated by antiques, and she had a temper. ~smile~ My normal demeanor mirrors my Dad’s mom, but I can get riled in a split second if I’m provoked. Whether we want to admit it or not, our parents and grandparents do shape us!
My paternal grandfather taught me how to treat people – he taught my dad and my dad taught me. Granddaddy always knew how to make someone feel at home, and he told my grandma to never let anyone leave the house hungry. I’m not sure I ever went to their house without being offered food. ~smile~ He loved his church – and not only did he attend – but he and my grandma worked hard to build it. They sold barbeque plates, went door to door inviting folks to church, and sometimes picked up multiple loads of people for church on Sunday. He was dedicated to his local body, a friend to all, and when he died, there was standing room only at his funeral.
There simply aren’t enough words to express what Grandma Lillie taught me. When she died, Heaven suddenly did not feel so far away. I still get misty-eyed when I think about her, and sometimes I just let the tears flow. I miss her, but I’m so happy for her – and, occasionally, a little jealous. She did fight the good fight. She finished the course. She kept the faith. There is no doubt in my mind that she is with the Lord as I write. She taught me faithfulness, sacrificial love, the power of prayer, how to be a good friend, and how to be a good wife.
Just before she died, her eyes popped wide open, and Dad said it was as if she was talking to someone. From what they could tell, the last word out of her mouth was “Hallelujah.” Moments like that are faith-strengtheners for sure. She didn’t just tell me how to live, she showed me, and I feel her prayers even now.
Develop and Treasure These Connections
Grandparent connections are some of the most special in the world. If you are blessed to still have living grandparents, don’t take them for granted. Maybe they aren’t the sweet, cuddly kind, but can you still reach out to them, love on them, and learn from them? We don’t value older age in American culture, but it is the elderly who have so much wisdom. Drink it in. Learn about your family history, how your grandparents met and married, and what your parents were like as kids. Connect with those precious people while you still have the chance. Their influence has helped shape you into who you are today.
What did your grandparents teach you about life, love, and the pursuit of holiness?