This morning, buildings are burning, racism is rampant, a virus is killing, people are hurting. To read a paper or watch the news on television resembles falling into a black hole of despair with no hope of surviving.
Some say it looks as if God has given up, and soon the future will end. Many believe we need to go back in time, return to the good ole’ days, but that’s isn’t a reality. Even if we could turn back time, we would notice that buildings burned, racism was rampant, a virus killed, and people suffered.
Life is full of black holes. Sometimes it takes more than courage to find the light, but we should never give up hope that a bright day will warm our souls. Perhaps we should ask ourselves, ” Are there steps we can take to avoid the darkness?”
Dodging the blame game
Dodging the blame game is undoubtedly one productive step. We are collectively the best of blamers. Our President waves blame like a red flag, and we, in turn, blame him for most everything. Senators blame each other’s political party for massive collective Congressional failures. Races often blame one another for their difficulties; husbands blame wives and visa versa. Guilty children point a finger and yell, “Johnny did it!” We learn early to pass the buck and take no responsibility.
The other day, I heard a Governor say to the press, “I was wrong. I didn’t know what I should have known!” It was so refreshing, I jumped up and down and didn’t pay attention to what he did to necessitate his taking all the blame. If we earnestly try not to pass our guilt to others, we might see the light in the darkness. Own up, confess, and be truthful.
Pointing fingers is not a solution to a problem. Passing the buck is our way of proclaiming our pure innocence when it is simply not true. Playing the blame game never improves anything and typically leads us into the dark hole of no solutions, no hope, no growth, and a false sense of righteousness. And, guess what, we are ALL to blame for the blaming.
I am horrible about accusing a lousy golf shot on a bad lie, my club, the golf ball, even the tee, but guess what, I promise you it is because I hit a bad shot. Isn’t it funny how we are only perfect in our own minds?
Another step to climbing out of the darkness is to listen, watch, and bypass evil. Evil is like a mist that appears harmless but causes us to not notice the black hole awaiting our fall. Evil exists and works very well to create contempt, envy, bigotry, and selfishness. It applauds fires, murders, lies, and hate. Evil resides in every corner, and it is only tempered by faith that God will help us be triumphant in the battle. But to say we have faith and not use it, is evil’s victory.
I recall as a young teen visiting a friend’s church. The large church was a pillar of the community, and I loved the congregation, which included many of the town’s citizens. John F. Kennedy was running for President at the time. During the sermon, the minister declared in a soft, appealing voice, “We should not vote for this Kennedy man because he is Catholic.”
Discriminating evil spewing in the halls of God’s home. How does evil work? Just like that.
Hope and healing reside in each of us. Let’s own up to our responsibility to create it. We should never ignore our own wrongdoing, our own self- righteous behavior, and our lack of implementing our faith. To change requires a transformation within each of us.
Compassion, acceptance, kindness, openness, conversations, and love is the only way we calm our land and put out the fires of hatred. The only way and it all will begin at our front doors where the buck stops and where light can shine in.
We should all reach deep and climb up out of the dark abyss of despair. Let us all join to erase racism, eradicate a virus, and the venom that causes people such suffering. Please.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
When I was a young girl, I asked my parents, “Do you love me?” Evidently, I was not sure because Mama said I repeated the same question over and over. I was sickly as a child causing my parents much distress. It was curious how I sensed at such a young age; my ills were causing others pain. I wanted reassurance I was still loved even though I was imperfect.
Love is necessary for life. It is the motivator, the hope, the catalyst to obtaining peace and happiness. Unconditional love is how a child grows to goodness, how a marriage weathers storms, and how we live harmoniously on this planet. Love abiding within us produces character and humility. Love is the secret of life.
Giving love away
Love is at its best when we give it away. Grandpa (my grandmother) offered abundant love like no other. During the summer, she grew a bountiful garden full of everything from watermelons to white gladiolas. The flowers were for the church, watermelons were for the grandchildren, and the vegetables were canned for her extended family to enjoy throughout the winter.
She pulled weeds, hoed, and cared for her large garden of love so that she could give affection and kindness away.
I recall one incident when she gifted each of her three children five hundred dollars. Now, Grandpa did not cherish money at all, nor did she possess much of it. However, she had recently received some insurance money and, in typical Grandpa style, wanted to give it away.
All three of her over 40-year-old children were upset with their mother because they knew she desperately needed a new refrigerator and other items for her home.
“No, I am not taking that money back! I wanted it to go to all of you! “She said as she stomped her foot. We all knew when Grandpa stomped that foot, discussions were over.
When love is returned
When Christmas rolled around that same year, Grandpa’s children gave her a new refrigerator using the money she had gifted them. What an example of giving love away and then having it, unselfishly, returned. That is enough to stomp your happy feet with joy!
As we come through this period of isolation, we should surround ourselves with less hostility and more love. Appreciation for others is essential. We show love through our caring unselfishly for one another.
I went to a store the other day that did a fantastic job protecting its customers from COVID-19’s wrath when it reopened. Plexiglass was installed between the cashier and client; the staff wore masks, and shopping carts were being sanitized at the door.
Half of the customers were unmasked, not following the arrows on the aisles, and standing too close to others. My first thought was, “Do you love me? Are your rights more important than caring about me? I am concerned for you because I am trying to do my part to protect you from sickness.”
When our rights take precedence over love, when our hate reigns over caring for others, we are already extremely ill.
Love is the cure
Love is always a remedy. It will save us from failure, from God’s wrath, and from living in a world dominated by cruelty. A sensitive heart is not a weakness; it is a strength. Showing unselfish, giving, living affection to others is what we are taught by God to do. And, it has nothing to do with politics.
As a matter of fact, if we quit saying or using the word ‘hate’ in the political realm, we might find we are allowing a little more open-minded understanding into our souls.
The most significant thing we can do in our lives is to take the gift of love we have received and give it away to as many people as possible. Bestow love not just to those we know but to strangers. We must pause for a moment before we spread malice, selfishness, and bigotry to remember God watches all our actions and listens to our hearts.
God commands us to love one another. He tells us that we can possess great faith and hope, but nothing is greater than love. I don’t know about you, but I believe He meant for love to be put to good use. If we do not use love in caring for one another, He, the Perfect One, might ask each of us, “Do you love me?”
During this time of COVID-19 isolation, we have all seen so many images and heard countless stories of tribulations and death. It was only a few months ago, we never dreamed any of these horrors were remotely possible.
A few weeks ago, I was gathering research for a column I wrote regarding how the flu epidemic of 1918 devastated my father’s family. As I was studying the facts of the Spanish Flu pandemic, I came across a photo of people requiring burial in mass graves because of the multitudes who perished from that unseen enemy in a short time. These were the folks who had no one to claim their bodies or others whose families did not have enough money for a proper burial. Instead, they eternally rest in pine boxes buried side by side in trenches.
This disturbing, horrific picture etched itself into my heart. I was comforted knowing that my family members who died from 1918 to 1920 were interred in a little cemetery beside their mothers and fathers. Their tombstones tell the story of their existence. Somehow that gave me peace.
An isle of sorrow
Off the coast of the Bronx in New York lies a tiny one mile stretch of land called Hart Island. Abandoned buildings dot this landscape of loss. White posts emerge from the ground, denoting where mass graves are located in this public cemetery. These graves are the final resting place for children and adults who were once disadvantaged or unclaimed.
This week, one hundred years after the photo of the mass burials for victims of the Spanish Flu, a picture emerged of a trench being dug on Hart’s Island. Unclaimed souls were buried side by side on a cloudy, cold day in 2020. The old public cemetery is currently burying up to 25 people per day now in pine boxes, reminiscent of a scene from a century ago.
Did we ever believe that was remotely possible?
There is so much to learn from seeing such sorrow. As I thought about the impoverished or unclaimed bodies whose names and existence lie lost beneath the ground on this stark bit of earth, I am reminded of Easter.
That is the glory of Easter.
What we learn from Easter
Because of the death and resurrection of Christ, these souls were not lost but claimed. They may have been broken or forgotten here on earth, but not in Christ’s domain.
The Bible tells us to serve the poor, abandoned, or those in need. How many times did Christ speak of loving each other regardless of whether we are rich or poor? Do we just read the words and the parables he taught, but not live by them? If so, who or what is the unseen
I see folks fret and panic over their retirement funds dwindling, their stocks plummeting, and the economy tumbling. And yes, for sure, it is worrisome. However, if we don’t learn compassion, humility, thankfulness, and understanding from all this, we are more doomed than our savings accounts.
When my Grandmother, who was not a rich woman by any stretch of the imagination, would give her money away to someone in need, my mother would often get upset. “Now, Elizabeth, sometimes giving away money makes us richer.” Mama knew her mother was right because my Grandmother lived by the words Christ left us.
If we renew the inane political blame games, the bigotry, hoarding our money or our goods, and spreading divisiveness after this, we know the real enemy is….us. Will we let Easter and all that Jesus taught us to be put on the back burner until the next catastrophe occurs? Or, will we opt for making better choices?
Today many people are giving their lives to help others. The caretakers and the medical community. The truck drivers, service providers, and those on the front lines of the Coronavirus battle. They hear the word of God through the spirit in their hearts. Many of us do, but it is when we turn the words into action, we see that the risen Christ continues to live among us.
When we return to lives we once knew, let’s use our faith to aid one another, be kinder, less judgemental, and become more charitable. If we do, and we behave as Christ has asked of us, then maybe in 100 years there will be no more pictures of mass graves or forgotten souls.
Is that remotely possible?
Who are the poor or the unclaimed in God’s eyes? Who are the ones who lie in trenches alone? It may not be those in graves, but those who walk without hearing or heeding the word.
Give all you can to those who are needing you now.
Every so often I pause in my day to reflect. Today, I am thinking of you. I know some of you check to see if I have posted new stories or to find information about me. So, I hope you read this little note.
First, think you for visiting this site and for reading my stories or columns.
We will survive this time in our lives no matter what. Our faith must remain steadfast, and because we have faith, our fears will ease. And, when we return to our normal worlds, perhaps we will appreciate all the things we took for granted before. Perhaps we will complain less and love more.
I have often said that folks can come out of hardship in two ways. One, we can become resentful or angry or two, be humbled and thankful. Which will we choose?
May God be with you, keep you safe, and I will keep writing my little words of encouragement along the way. Write back if you want and remember, we are all brothers and sisters no matter where we are.
Most of us can be skeptical and doubtful at times. Sometimes mysterious events occur that we conclude are merely coincidences and see no divine connections. And, most of the time, we are wrong.
I often write about the power of God and the things He does do to show us He and his staff of angels are with us even in the small stuff of life. We can’t possibly understand the how’s and why’s of His plans, but sometimes we must lean not on our understanding, but His.
Near the end of 2017, I began to compile many of my columns into a book. Before I started this trek into the unknown, I consulted my friend, essayist Lee Walburn, who encouraged me to do so. He had written a similar book, and I was very impressed with the artist he used to illustrate the chapters. Her name, Michaele Flynn Prince, a former art teacher from Armuchee, Georgia.
Once the chapters were organized and titled, I met Michaele and her husband at a restaurant outside of Atlanta.
She decided to take on the project and used many of my ideas for each drawing. Some were more complicated than others. In the months that followed, I discovered the incredible talent and friendship of Michaele Prince.
When she would email a rendering, I often would cry because it was as if she put on paper a vision that only lived in my mind. She painstakingly and beautifully created authentic depictions of my written words.
However, one chapter, titled “Roots,” gave us fits! It held stories regarding our heritage and how it affects our lives. A drawing of a family tree began as an oak, but then we chopped it down. Nothing was entirely right.
Finally a Solution
Finally, after doing a bit of research, I discovered a tree silhouette. I liked the idea and quickly sent an example of one to Michaele. I told her the names to put in the roots and on the tree trunk, which were my parents, grandparents, and great grandparents.
The tree also depicted life events on its branches, which I thought was a good idea.
“Are there any specific events you would like to portray in the tree?” Michaele asked.
“No, the names are the significant part, so the activities represented can be anything,” I replied.
Michaele knew nothing about my relatives, their lives, and little regarding me. We initially met over lemonade to discuss a book and laughed over her love of fishing, tennis, and pickleball.
“Lynn, I just finished a sketch of the silhouette heritage tree, and I am emailing it to you now.” She messaged me early one morning.
I opened my computer, and as I gazed at the screen, chills ran over me. Tears welled in my eyes, and I recognized there was a divine element involved that could never be mere coincidence.
The tree branch to the left of my parent’s names on the trunk was a silhouette of a couple dancing. My parents loved to dance, especially my father, who passed such love to me. A woman is pushing a man in a wheelchair as I did my cancer-stricken brother’s chair toward the end of his life. We shared many laughs regarding how he directed me to drive his wheelchair.
In the middle of the branches is a child fishing with a pole, which was my grandmother’s and my favorite activity. In the 1800s, my great, great Aunt Hennie delivered over 1000 babies in the Tennessee hills riding horseback to each new mother. And, a woman is riding a horse toward the top of the silhouette.
A ballerina regally poses in the center of the tree’s branches. Both my granddaughter and I pirouetted most of our childhood years away. A bike rider is racing down another limb, which few people knew I almost destroyed my face when I fell off my bike at age twelve, hit gravel face first because I raced down a hill.
A child is reaching toward an upper branch as I did when I would sneak into my great-grandmother’s backyard, climb up her cherry tree to stuff my cheeks with ripe goodness.
And, finally on the bottom right are two elderly folks seated at a rectangular dining table, which my grandparents did every day until my grandfather died in 1965.
Michaele knew none of those things when she randomly chose the scenes used in the silhouettes of the tree. However, there they were, the story of my heritage told in the branches of a mystical black and white tree.
Life is a series of finely tuned connections and clues reminding us we are never alone. Our families live on in a place where angels and souls soar amid mighty eternal oaks.
Five horses gathered at the fence behind the barn waiting for Miss Carter to bring them treats. She patted their noses, told them they were each special, and she would return with more love in the afternoon. Apple, the young colt, tilted his head as Carter whispered to him as only Miss Carter could do. Afterward, she returned to the barn to prepare tea and cookies for friends who were joining her for a picnic.
Miss Carter is three-yeas-old; the horses are seven inches high, and a popsicle stick fence surrounds the plastic barn. the barn is plastic. This idyllic scene rests on a child’s table in my living room. However, for Carter and me, our imagination allows us to travel far. We visit places where there is the freedom to ride, climb trees, and play in a hayloft.
I am called Grandma by this spirited, sweet child. We are not blood-related since she is my stepdaughter’s little girl but never mind all that. Family dynamics are way too complicated for a three-year-old. Love seems to cancel such trivial nonsense anyway.
Carter broke her femur (thigh bone) in a freak accident at her preschool several weeks ago. She looks exquisite in her pink and purple Spica cast, which begins just under breastbone, travels down her right leg to her ankle, and the left leg to her knee. A steel bar attaches from the right ankle to the left thigh, which separates her legs by about two feet.
She cannot walk, nor can she sit without assistance. Miss Carter sleeps only on her back because she cannot turn and does so without complaint. She requires constant supervision, and when she needs to move, you must lift her, including the heavy apparatus she is half-buried in.
I keep Carter three days a week since she cannot return to school until the cast is removed. I have learned to sit with her around her table in little chairs that rise one foot above the floor. As a result of the lifting and sitting, I take a substantial amount of Ibuprofen for my back on a weekly basis.
When we are not at the barn, we go to Barbie’s house and visit the girls, or we shop at the grocery store where the head cashier, Miss Carter, runs the Minnie Mouse cash register. We unload our groceries in the kid’s kitchen and prepare cookies containing pretend ingredients of vegetable soup and cherries. We solve puzzles, and without cheating, I cannot win a game of Candy Land to save my life.
Carter, in her infinite wisdom, has taught me a lot about life during these last few weeks. I realize if I were in her situation, the claustrophobia would have set in, and my wailing would have spooked all the horses to flee to greener pastures! I would certainly require more than a dose of Ibuprofen to get through the days. And, not even Godzilla could lift me since I would have drowned my sorrow with real cookies made with chocolate chips.
Children are amazing. They accept what befalls them and roll with the punches. Children use their imagination to escape to bliss and enjoy the love showered upon them as they go. They choose not to complain but instead hold their dolls or bears and if need be, watch “Alvin and the Chipmunks” to ease their burdens. Little ones don’t worry too much about tomorrow because they assume it will eventually arrive, bringing a new horse to the barn or more folks to the tea party.
Adults could learn a tractor full of insight by observing God working through a child’s mind and soul. I understand that since we live on this earth, bad things do happen to even the smallest humans. However, when it does, because they are innocent, God calms their soul and must whisper to them just like Carter does to her little colt, Apple, to assure him all is well.
When tragedy visits us, perhaps we should remember, like Carter, that when we fall, courage will help us to stand again. Miss Carter also understands that attitude makes a huge difference in how we heal. We can choose to laugh at Alvin and his chipmunks or cry and complain over our misfortune. We can decide to pray to God or blame Him for our troubles.
Children trust us to make things okay. They believe our words of comfort, “It’s going to be alright.” Are we not God’s children? If we believe in His words, everything will be okay even on the day when the horses arrive with chariots to take us home. Until then, enjoy the green pastures, let your imaginations fly, and appreciate the love bestowed upon you as you go.
I was rummaging through an old file in my office labeled, “Reflections,” and found a poem among the papers. I noticed the date, March 1988, was written on the bottom left corner of the page.
Please, let me go
Let me vanish into a place
Where my spirit will flow
Far away, into a never-ending tomorrow
I have had enough of trying to try
Laughing when I hurt
Giving and Giving
Just more work.
Please, let me die
For I am but a burden
To those who have listened
Only to cry.
I’m only getting worse
May I go?
My life’s a curse.
I know you will forgive me
If I interrupt you plan
And let me go by my own hand
I fought the fight Now I’m tired
Let me retire
Into your soft night.
Oh, my plans!
You always win
Finding a way to
Give me hope again.
You saved me; heaven knows why
To find purpose, rhyme.
You carried me when I couldn’t
Thank you, God,
For loving me
Even when I didn’t.
When I read what I wrote in 1988, years slipped away, and I recalled the feeling of being on the inside of clinical depression and darkness. I realized most people only view suicide from the outside looking into those lives who see only blackness. The voyeur cannot begin to understand what sorrow lies in the heart of those who take their own lives. Most people cannot understand those who live in a world where sadness is so profound and feel happiness only belongs to others.
When suicide seemed to be the only way to find rest for myself, I believed the world would be a far better place without me. My depressed mind thought my family would be free from my tears and their worry about me, gone. I felt I bothered the world, bothered my family, and I was a bother to myself. I hated being me.
My world was depression, and when God showed me a glimmer of hope, I took it. I worked hard to walk away from the cliff beckoning me to jump, and instead, climbed up the mountain to find life, not death.
I am one of the ones who survived the tomb of the lost. Its darkness does not discriminate between the young or old, rich or poor. Clinical depression isn’t the only reason on can enter the tomb. Situational depression from a tragic loss, physical illness, financial distress, failure, addictions, mental illness, bullying, pressure, resentment, and a myriad of other reasons can place you among the lost.
When we lose a famous person to suicide, we don’t quite understand why, when they seemed to live the dream, they would choose death. The truth is they weren’t living a dream; they were lost in a nightmare.
Since cases of suicide and mental illness are on the rise, it is way past the time for us to reveal who we are. It is time to share, to care about each other and be brave enough to talk about our struggles to the others understand they are not alone.
Plus, this idea that mental illness is a sign of failure is archaic. Everyone needs to trash judgmental thinking because too many are suffering and dying, including our children. Let’s love one another and show compassion. Let’s stop the whispering and start listening.
If I could be in the same room as the person who is ready to fall off the cliff from life to death, I would grab them by the arm and tell them the story of me.
“There were times in my life when I needed to fight to keep from jumping off the cliff just like you. Times when loneliness and fatigue multiplied my depression. Times when I worried about money, weariness from jobs, and when sadness followed me around like a shadow. The good news is that I am standing with you now to you away from the edge.
If you fall, you will miss seeing what is awaiting you tomorrow. I found help, I talked, I shared, I prayed, and because I did, I was able to see my children grow into beautiful adults. I saw a precious granddaughter join the world. I fell in love, I continued giving my career all I could, and when it was over, I began my dream of writing. The bullies will move away, and loss will ease with time. So, don’t die, let me take you to see the light of tomorrow.
Tomorrow will turn into weeks and with work, weeks will turn into the future and one that will feel sad if you are not there.
Every single person on the planet is vital and has a reason not to give up. God showed me purpose, gave me a voice and the courage to live long after 1988.
Comic strips often entertain us with not only a funny moment but occasionally the cartoonist will introduce a bit of insight within their colorful panels. Such was the case when Jan Eliot provided such wisdom in her comic strip called, “Stone Soup.”
One of the characters is Alix, a nine-year-old precocious girl who is sitting at the kitchen table watching her Grandmother rolling the dough for a homemade pie.
Alix asks, “Gramma, why do you like to make pies so much?”
Her Gramma explains that when she was a young mother, they did not have much money, but she and her husband had an orchard abundant with pears, apples, and peaches. So, when they could afford only rice and beans for dinner, what lifted the spirits of her family, was a delicious homemade pie for dessert.
After hearing her Gramma’s explanation, Alix replies, “In other words… before Prozac, there was pie.”
Gramma ends the story with this statement, “That’s what’s wrong with everyone! Not enough pie!!”
Growing up, I recall my Grandmother making pies to deliver to folks who were physically ailing or mentally going through a difficult time. She regularly baked my brother his favorite chocolate pie and would always make a blackberry cobbler for my mother when the berries were in season. I don’t think I ever visited her when she didn’t bake a pie out of love or compassion for someone.
I remember one summer day, my grandmother’s friend, Mrs. Harris, was ill. First thing on a Saturday morning, we visited Mrs. Harris bearing an apple pie full of concern and affection. Before we left, Mrs. Harris was giggling with her friend before hugging me goodbye.
The tradition of pie giving was passed down from those ancestors who resided in the Southern hills to hearts who needed a pie’s restorative power. Aunts, mothers. grandmothers, a few uncles, and even some grandpas inherited the gift of producing a mouthful of joy. My Granddaddy couldn’t make a pie, but he sure could mend a mortal soul with his homemade peanut brittle.
My mom could roll out the best pie crust on the planet. Plus, she had the artistic talent to create the perfect lattice top over her delicious fruit pies. She would serve them warm with a dollop of ice cream. Mom could dry tears and melt hearts with her delicious creations. I once dubbed her the “Queen of Pies,” and to this day, I believe she undoubtedly was.
Friends and family frequently question me, “Lynn, why do you insist on baking homemade desserts? You can go to Publix and get a great pie or cake and not have to go through the trouble!”
My answer is the same, “It’s not the same!”
Generosity, compassion, and joy are only found in the work you go through to create them. Not everyone knows how to bake a pie, but they sure know how to gather flowers, write a sweet note, or hold a hand. When we use extra energy to lift another’s spirit, whether it is through baking a pie or going for a visit, we deliver healing. When we go to the trouble to love, we give hate trouble.
Our world is a busy place where texting emoji hearts, sad or smiling faces, makes it simple to share our emotions. We are “convenient” happy. Whatever makes our lives easier is becoming the norm. However, our days will become more comfortable only when our society becomes a less hateful place.
A peaceful world can exist only through loving each other enough to create a pie made of sincere compassion, prayer, and understanding. Comforting another is not about easy, it is about sacrifice and empathy. There is no emoji in the technological world that shows the recipe for genuine kindness.
“Before Prozac, there was pie,” Alix declared. I suffer from clinical depression, and I understand needing medications for this illness. However, if my family and friends had been too busy to hug me, pray with me, or cook my kids’ dinner through some of those wicked dark hours, would I have made it? When those compassionate souls took the time to physically aid me, they helped me see a sunny day was on the horizon.
“That’s what’s wrong with everyone! Not enough pie!” Gramma happily tells her grandchildren as she holds her beautiful baked pie above her head. What if we brought a homemade pie of kindness to the table of hate and calmed anger with a dose of warmed goodness?
Then our Grandchildren would learn just like I did from my Grandmother; when we take the time to create love, we might just witness healing our hurts one pie at a time.
How do you
love a child? How do you become the memory that makes someone smile
forever? Does your life exemplify your
ethical beliefs and encourage children to follow you?
There is no
better honor than to answer the above questions with a, “Yes.” The greatest gift we have as adults is children. It doesn’t matter if we are a parent,
grandparent, aunt, uncle, or a friend of a child. To love a child and have the
love returned is the blessing that is beyond all the riches in the world.
three and watching his favorite grandmother make biscuits. He watched as the flour hit the dough board
and dusted the air. She was talking to
him the whole time and laughed as the white powder settled on his eyelashes.
been having a lot of trouble with the name “Grandma.” Since he was born with six grandmothers, he
would get them confused easily. Two
great, great-grandmothers, two great-grandmothers, and two grandmothers all
living in the same town! He was the
first grandchild. It was asking too much
to remember them all. Out of all those grandmothers he only had one living
while standing beside his grandmother in her kitchen, he came up with a
brown eyes opened wide as he tugged his grandmother’s apron, “You gonna be
“John, I am Grandma, and he is your
Granddaddy.”, she replied as she pointed to her husband.
and he Granddaddy!” he emphatically stated again. Then he walked away.
moment on, nine grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren would forever call her
would also be representative of unconditional love. A love that allowed her to be called whatever
these children wanted to call her.
have crossed my path in life, but without question, I have never known anyone
quite like her.
just say, “I love you,” she showed it in countless ways.
nothing she loved more than children.
For those of us who were in her life, we all knew that to be fact. When she played or talked with us, she became
She even let
us play with the wrinkles on her hand, and make fun of her false teeth until
she got new ones. She laughed at herself
and was never embarrassed by any of us.
I can recall
many of my cousins and me being in her small home at one time. She would play games with us all day, fish
with us, tell us stories, and stay up way past her bedtime.
before she went to her room to join my sleeping grandfather, she would sit at
the end of the hall and read her Bible.
That is how
she made us understand the concept of priorities.
played games, she would never let any of us undeservedly win. By doing so, she
taught us to have the grace to lose and understand the word fairness.
stayed with Grandpa many times in our lives.
She would make sure she had everyone’s favorite food in the house. She would cook until her old apron was soiled
and dark. She taught us that in
someone’s eyes we were each special.
bloomed in July with white gladiolas that reached up to the sun. She always wanted white because they were pure
and heavenly. She taught us that out of
dirt, toil, and care comes beauty.
It is hard
for me to write all that she was and did in her 97 years on earth. I could fill the whole book with words and
stories about this remarkable, kind human being.
laughter continues to fill my heart today.
Her hands calm my soul while her spirit still wraps me in unconditional
love and comfort.
We bring children into our world hoping they will be perfect and amazing. I think instead we need to be as close as we
can to amazing and perfect for them. To make a child feel loved unconditionally,
feel special, feel like we would rather be with them than anything else, is
honoring the gift that God gave us in the first place.
Years ago, I
could not decide what to give Grandpa for Christmas. She had a history of gifts going in her hope
chest to save for a rainy day.
I decided to
write a column about her and send it to her county paper in Tennessee. The newspaper printed the story using an
entire page. The title in bold lettering was, “MERRY CHRISTMAS GRANDPA!”
The name my
brother gave her all those years ago was now a bold headline, and that was as
it should be.
For a child
to grow up making us a headline in their heart, a love that will never die long
after we are gone, is the best blessing we will give them and ourselves.
children will arise up and call her blessed,” were the words on a cross-stitched
sampler hanging above Grandpa’s bed when she left this earth. No truer words were ever written.