This week, I’ve been missing my grandma Anne. It’s now been just over a year since her body gave out and her soul, as she so joyfully believed, embraced Jesus. When my sister and I sat at her bedside in the hospital, doing our best to talk through the machines and tubes and our own tears, we made her promise to say hi to our Grandpa Frank. Her voice as strong as I heard it at all in those last days, she promised she would, “But I’m going to see Jesus first.”
On Wednesday I drove out to the country with about 14 members of First Baptist’s Greatest Generation to join a couple for lunch in their farmhouse. As I sat and listened to them tell stories, and ask questions, and laugh, and remember, I felt a sting of grief I hadn’t felt in months. I wanted my Grandma Anne to meet these women. She would like them; she would enjoy this kind of company. She would be so happy to know that these men and women were church to me. And I think she would be so delighted and proud to think of me ministering among them.
What spending time talking with, learning from, and laughing with men and women who remind me so much of my own grandparents is how many stories and tidbits that I won’t
get to hear from her. The ordinariness of her own experience are the gems that I won’t get to hear her share. I wrote this post a few months ago about Grandma. The pang of grief is as much about the memories as they flit in and out of my consciousness, as it is about grieving the richness of her life that I did not yet know.
One of the things that my dad brought to Lawrence from Louisville some weeks back was a collection of binders that Grandma Anne put together for my 16th birthday. She had saved so many letters from before I was born and throughout those sixteen years – from my mom, my dad, from my own childhood pen. It’s humbling to think about all the years-long care and thoughtfulness that went into curating these pages of my own story through others’ lenses.
She and Grandpa Frank wrote this in a letter in the first pages:
So many memories, Meredith, and we love them all. This book contains only a sampling of the times we shared, and a sampling of the special events in your life which your Mom and Dad shared with us.
You’ve grown into such a beautiful young lady: talented, intelligent, sensitive, all qualities which will carry you far as you continue to mature, grow, and pursue your goals and dreams. Please do dream. Without dreams, life can get mundane. Always reach higher than you can even imagine reaching – only then will life be fulfilling and challenging. …
Our blessings and best wishes are with you as you continue to mature and become the woman God wants you to become. Continue to enjoy good jokes and laugh. Continue to love people which will bring you joy. Always allow people to love you – that will bring you many friends. Always seek to make a contribution to friends and family – this will bring fulfillment.
I’m sure I read her words years ago, but only now are they beginning to sink in. And how much I think she would just squeal (though, of course, proper southern ladies like herself do not squeal) with joy for and with me at how right she was.