She was 92 years old, my grandmother. She lived a long life, and not an easy one. She raised six kids in a time when women did just about everything in terms of housekeeping and child-rearing, AND she helped run the grocery store that she and my grandfather owned. Once the kids were grown and my grandfather passed away, she practically lived at that store. She knew everyone in her tiny Virginia town, and everyone knew her. She was a huge part of the community.
As her health and eyesight deteriorated, she had to sell the store and stayed at home. I can't imagine what it must have been like for a woman who was used to running around constantly and taking care of other people to sit in a recliner in all day, every day, simply because there's not much else she could do.
I have a peace when I think about her being gone--that's not what makes me sad. I knew at Thanksgiving when I last saw her that it might be the final visit, and she knew that as well. We have said our goodbyes. I know she knew the Lord and she is home with Him right now, in a place where there is no more suffering. Right now she is rejoicing with the Lord. She has a new body, and it's one that will never feel pain again. I am happy for her sake.
But what causes the tears to stream down my face right now is remembering who she was as a person and the legacy she leaves behind. What a loss to have that kind of light and energy gone from the world. She was a quiet woman who lived a simple life, but her attitude spoke volumes and left a far bigger impression on me than any worldly accomplishment she could have made.
Grandma refused to say an unkind word about anyone. You could inform her that someone had just done the most despicable thing on the planet, and she'd find a way to understand the person's motive and show compassion toward them. She cared deeply about social justice and caring for the less fortunate, and she could see the good in any one and any thing.
I don't think I ever heard my grandmother complain. Not once. If you asked her how she was feeling, the answer was always a chuckle and a soft-spoken, "Oh, I'm alright, I reckon." She'd tell you about an ache or pain if you prompted her, but she smiled while she was talking, and she never felt sorry for herself or wallowed in self-pity.
When my husband, parents, and I visited her in the hospital in November, the physical therapist told her she was going to have to do some exercises. She laughed and said to the family in the room, "Y'all aren't going to just sit there and watch me. If I'm going to exercise, everybody's going to do it! Come on now!" My dad said we needed the Rocky theme song, so I pulled it up on my iPhone, and that was the soundtrack my grandmother had as she lifted her arms up and down, up and down, surrounded by her kids and grandkids as we all copied the motions and laughed together. THAT is the essence of who my grandmother was.
To be honest, Grandma embodies all the qualities that I do not. It's my nature to fault find and complain. I'm often impatient and self-centered. I gossip and jump to conclusions. But my grandmother gives me something to aspire to. She was and will always be a role model to me about how to treat people and how to approach life. She had a positive attitude every single day and always had a ready smile and laugh no matter what hardships she was facing.
I thank God for my grandmother and the legacy she leaves behind. It is a true testimony that she did not wait until she got to heaven to be happy or to enjoy her life. But I am grateful that she is there now, in the presence of her Creator. I know today she heard Him speak the words, "Well done, my good and faithful servant."