As I’ve mentioned before in other posts, my Grandma Lillie (Granny Jones) has had a profound influence over my life. She was a model of godliness for others and myself and she came second to none in the areas of hospitality, unconditional love, and prayer. In my thirty years on this planet, I never remember her wavering from the truth and she stood on God’s Word until the end.
Then, on October 17th, 2012 at approximately 2:40pm, Granny Jones went home… to her eternal home.
In 2008, Granny started going downhill when her back started causing her a lot of pain. She had back surgery, but her arthritis became worse and she would tell us how much her legs burned. She began having trouble getting around her small apartment and, on occasion, she would fall and spend hours trying to get herself back up. In July of 2011, the family made the difficult decision of moving Granny into a nursing home. Granny told me that she didn’t want to move out of her apartment, but that she had prayed about it and had such a peace about moving into this particular nursing facility.
A few months after she moved into her new home, she began having a series of health problems which landed her in the hospital six times in about a year. Mom and Dad would tell me about how hard it was on her to be poked and prodded constantly. The last time she was in the hospital, the doctor took her children (my dad, uncle, and aunt) aside and told them that her body was tired and trying to shut down. His recommendation was to keep her as comfortable as possible. Less than a week later, she was ushered into Heaven.
Wednesday, October 17th, my dad called me and said, “It’s happened.” Then he choked up a little and said that he’d never seen anything like it. After being unresponsive for several days, Granny’s eyes popped open and she looked upward. She was talking softly to some being and the last word they thought they saw her whisper was “hallelujah.” It could be that she was talking with an angel escorting her; however, and there’s no way I can know for sure this side of Heaven, but I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the Lord Jesus Christ Himself came to get His daughter. Let me tell you, the gospel was never more real to me than it was the moment Dad told me this story. What a joy to know Granny is with the Lord.
The next few days were a whirlwind! Eric and I drove down to North Carolina the next morning and the family met with the funeral director. Granny had already planned her funeral and paid the funeral home enough money to cover everything she wanted, including a few extras. The family gathered and ate, and ate, and ate for several days straight thanks to the generosity of friends who brought us chicken, soup, sides, and desserts.
Saturday night, we gathered at her beloved New Bern Church of God to receive friends, and Sunday, October 21st, we celebrated her life. Two of my cousins and I were honored to get to sing for her one last time. Even though I held my emotions together before her funeral, I could not keep my eyes dry as the Pastor talked about her life. Granddaddy and Granny Jones were two of a small handful of charter members of the church (i.e., those who started the church), and she poured her life into supporting it by cooking and selling dinner plates to raise money, praying for it faithfully, and being there every time the doors were open.
During her final days, she wasn’t able to get out of the nursing home anymore, and it broke her heart that she wasn’t able to go to her church anymore. During the funeral they showed a slide show of how the church had grown over the years. It was like watching her life go by, my dad’s life go by, and my childhood go by. Let’s just say the tears flowed.
Perhaps the most memorable part of her home going celebration was being together as a family. It’s difficult to get the entire family together now that the grandkids are grown and separated across the states. As we drove to the graveside, I told Eric that I hoped this wouldn’t be the last time we’d all get together.
Granny’s life was a model of Christianity. If you ever wondered what it really meant to be a Christian, you could’ve looked at her life and understood. This Thanksgiving and Christmas I know it will be beyond strange not having her with us, but I’m excited to know that she’s celebrating Jesus and bowing before Him this holiday season – and for eternity. What joy she is experiencing right now!
I’ll leave you with these two thoughts:
- Are you ready for eternity? If today were your last day on Earth, could you confidently say that you are ready to be ushered into the presence of God?
- Is there anyone with whom you need to make amends? Don’t wait until it’s too late, and don’t wait to tell those you love how you feel about them. The day will come when you’ll reach for them and they’ll be gone.
Live your life without regrets, especially when it comes to family.
Is there someone you will be missing this holiday season? How can you honor him or her as you celebrate?