Wednesday, January 21, 2009

In Season Every Season

"Off season." That has been our topic the past few days. How do we use the "off" times to prepare for the "on" times? Today and tomorrow, I want to share a couple of stories that mean a lot to me.

The first is about my maternal grandmother. "Grandmommy" when we were young was simply called "grandmother" by our teens. Grandmother had been a fairly young widow with five children. Their family moved to the mountains of New Mexico to carve out a life in the latter part of our nation's "Great Depression". That rugged land was made it hard to produce enough for a livelihood when a husband was working. For a single mother, it was beyond difficult.

When I was about five, our family moved to a small farm a short distance from the town where I was born. The land offered enough size to move a tiny house trailer there for grandmother. That relationship was relatively healthy, but I recall the resentment some of the family -- including me -- developed toward her.

There were little things like her taking vacation trips with us in the family car. If she wasn't there, I, the oldest of four children, got to sit in the front passenger seat with my mom in the middle next to dad. If grandmother came along, I had to sit in the back with my siblings. That really made me angry! I similarly lost "my" seat at the table when she ate with us.

The grievance I remember most, though, was that grandmother always seemed to be sick. She was one of those people who told you how badly she felt. To us as kids, she complained a lot. We had absolutely no compassion and I'm sure she could hear our "secret" cynical remarks.

Grandmother passed away -- at age ninety -- about twenty years ago. During her last years, severe senility stole much of her mental awareness. Long after she was past meaningful communication, I began to learn something about the significance of life -- even when the the world might think a person's usefulness is worn out.

What I discovered applied very directly to me (and, I think, to you!). I'm grateful that someone finally taught me that we go through life standing on other people's shoulders.

That little lady whom I often wished would just go away had a significant impact on me in at least two ways. First, she loved to learn. At least partially, she influenced my decision to get some education.

Second, she prayed for me. (Believe me, I needed it! Smile.)

It goes much deeper than that. All the time I was griping about her presence, talking about her behind her back and seeing no value for her, she was praying. She hoped something for me that I didn't hope for myself.

I am now certain that her prayers started before I was born. And continued until she lost the conscious will to pray. In season, off season, every season.

When I get to heaven, I'm going to thank her.


Sandra said...

This post especially touched my heart. Hubby grew up with his grandmother living with them. I even got to meet her when we began dating as teenagers, but she died soon after.

Hubby has always said he wishes he had appreciated her more, and been kinder to her, but his young self just wished she wasn't around sometimes. I'm sure, very similar to what you describe with your grandmother.

But, he loves to tell about the last time he saw her. He went to the hospital to visit her when she was very bad and not expected to live. But when he got there she was in wonderful spirits and looked like she was much better. He said they had a WONDERFUL visit, laughing and reminding each other of things that had happened on the farm and in the family. And when he left, they kissed (not an every-day occurence in their stoic German family) and he told Grandma how much he loved her. And, the next day she died.

He has always been so glad that he made that visit, and has that wonderful last memory of her. But also, because he hadn't always appreciated her, he was glad that he got to show his love for her that one last time.

btw, she was a praying grandma too. And I believe her prayers for him are part of the reason he became the man I love and respect today. Thank you, God and Grandma!

C. Beth said...

I only remember Grandmommy (I think that's what we kids called her) from her senile years. It's neat to hear these stories about her.

Dad, you need to share the story of your praying mother, and your name, sometime!

Dina said...

It's funny how sometimes we don't appreciate the roles people play in our lives until we're older. When I was a kid I loved spending time with my paternal grandma, because we could play and get dirty and get a little rowdy. I loved my maternal grandma, but didn't have as much fun with her as a child, because I always had to be on my best behavior and make sure myself and everything around me were tidy and neat.

As a grown woman, I have had conversations with my maternal grandma that have contained such wisdom and that I will treasure forever. And I will never forget the strength and peace that she brought to my parents' home when my dad took the final turn that told us that death was only hours away. Her and my dad had never been particularly close when I was young, but during the last couple of years of his life he shared with me how much she had come to mean to him. My paternal grandma (his mom) had been suffering from early stage dementia and he always protected her from just how sick he had become. But, my mom's mom was able to pray with him and provided another important pillar of strength in her faith during some of the darker moments.

Both of my grandmas have offered much to my life in their own ways, but it has taken me until adulthood to truly appreciate their differences.

Brian said...

I hope the love my grandparents showed toward me will emit from me to my grand kids.

But, I think those in their 90's today, lived a life that developed good grandparents. I wonder how well God will work in me toward this?

I pray that I can be as good a grandparent as mine were.

Sam said...

I am once again fighting tears as you each tell me parts of your stories. I'm grateful to you all for sharing something very personal.

Tomorrow, one more story of life as a great, long season!