I'm laying here, in what feels like the other side of the world. It may as well be. And you lay in a hospital bed fighting colon cancer, pneumonia, heart attack.... I'm comforted to know that you are surrounded by your children. I'm struggling to not be near you. But do you know what? I feel you. I'm lying under the quilt that you made for my high school graduation. I look down and see the hundreds of individual pieces that your arthritic hands carefully sewed together. You remembered a picture that I loved as a child, and saved up that image in your head all those years, waiting for my graduation. Then months ahead of time, you spent countless hours choosing and arranging all the different fabrics. You told me that Grandpa was your advise council. He would help you decide where to put each color. Then you wrapped it up carefully, and flew with it to me, to celebrate with us.
We took you to Niagara Falls, and I will never forget your face as you beheld it. You remarked at how when you see that kind of beauty you see how much God loved us, to give us this amazing creation.
I love you Grammie, for so many reasons. Tho we have spent too many years apart, your legacy of love is felt as if we live together.
I want the world to know that you are a fighter, a survivor, a mother, a wife, a grandmother, a great grandmother. The early years in your first, abusive marriage could have broken you. You could have turned to bitterness and hate. And few would have blamed you. It was a hard life, and you were sometimes hard. But you had to survive didn't you. For your kids. No one is ever perfect. But that isn't a requirement to love.
We cherish you. We cherish the memories of camping trips, crafts, fishing, the never forgotten birthday cards, picking goose berries, chasing your ducks, your sugar drawer that you would "accidentally" drop strawberries into! While I didn't cherish them at the time, I am thankful for the clothes you made me when we couldn't afford any. Even the Precious Moments applique sweatsuits, with the puff paint.... I cherish the baby blankets that you sewed for each of your great grandchildren. My kids love them until they fall into tatters.The way you held my babies, your great grand babies. Such love and pride in your eyes.
But those things are not your greatest legacy Grammie. Your five children are. Who all know their Savior. Your 60 years of service to your church are your legacy. And all of the lives you touched there in that vast span of time. Your 5 children, 20 grandchildren and your 43 great grandchildren are your legacy. All being raised to follow God.
As we were passing through Guatemala the other day, we were temporarily waylaid at a jungle hotel. I kept taking pictures of every tropical flower. And I was laughing heartily on the inside, shook my head in the sunlight and sighed. Because I'm more like you than you know. I don't know how many thousands of slides and photos you have of the flowers of Oregon, but I'm starting my own collection to rival yours. Someday my children will tease me about it too. We love flowers Grammie. We love God fiercely and will not compromise on that. We love our children. I am so proud to be yours. Time and God softened you into the woman that now lies in a hospital bed, hundreds who love you dearly.
If anyone deserves to be in the presence of Jesus, forgiven, redeemed and loved, it is you. Not because you have paid the cost, Jesus did that for you. But you hold on to Him. When the world fights to steal your heart for 80 years, you hold on. When the world whispers promises of earthly pleasures, that are fleeting, you hold on. When the world turns time and again, and tries to twist His words, you hold on. You hold on to the promise of a future, eternity indescribable. You hold on to the love of Jesus, so deep, so vast, so faithful. This world steals health, loved ones, and tries to steal our souls. But you hold on. Soon you will be with your parents, with a fresh, strong body, you will get to hold my child before I do. You will be with your other grand children and greats that went on ahead. And they will rejoice to have you. And yet......
I'm not ready for you to go yet, I want you to continue to fight, to get strong again. I hope you have a lot of years left, to continue to lead and serve. Fight Grammie, because you have lessons and love yet to give to this world.
I remember a year or two ago, when I taught you about ring tones on cell phones, sitting on Dad's sofa together. And your face lit up when I told you that you can have any song in the world you want, when your phone rings. And so without hesitation you said you wanted "How Great Thou Art." If I could only be with you, I would hold your hand and sing it for you. I think it would help clear some of the fog that is trapping you right now.
We love you dearly Grammie. All of us. Your vast family. Sewn together by you, like the quilt that covers me. Piece by piece, held together by our love for you, and yours for us. And the common thread that you made sure to use, the love of a Heavenly Father.
May we be worthy of you.