"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.