There is just no way I can talk about Granny and not talk about Grandpa too…As most of you here know when I was fourteen we gathered at this same place after my father died. My granny’s love- well really the love of both of my grandparents was one way that God redeemed my strong desire for and need for love after my dad’s death. Before his death, I had never really known my grandparents, but circumstances and the amazing kindness of some very special people allowed them to move next door and they became not only everyday role models for my teenage years, but nurturing and strong companions. For those few precious years, I had the greatest childhood. Despite everything that had happened, I knew I was extremely blessed. My grandparents made me feel love that was unconditional but also I felt like the love we shared was more special than anyone else’s….I just knew that I was the favorite. Now, that may or may not have been true. From the stories I have heard lately, I am quite sure they made everyone feel this way. I sure hope so. My grandparents were the best…
When I think of them today, I do not think of their wealth because they never really accumulated any. My grandparents were the least materialistic people I have ever known. That being said it is funny that the last conversation I had with granny was about shopping. Last Tuesday afternoon as I sat with her in the hospital room after a very long silence she suddenly turned to me and said, “you know, If I had any money I would go shopping.” “You would? What would you buy?” I asked. She said, “I think I would buy something to wear.” So I said, “Well if you had any money, I would let you take me shopping.” To which she laughed. She loved shopping at Wal-Mart.
Also, when I think of my grandparents, I do not think of education because they did not degrees. But they always supported our dreams regarding higher education and granny never whined about the many, many long graduation ceremonies we inflicted on them like grandpa did.
I do not think of their religious activities because although they loved and feared God and although granny was a member of my beloved Poplar Springs Baptist Church, often they just did not go to church.
I think of their smiles and their sense of humor and joy of living. They loved to laugh and passed that joy to me freely. There was always laughter in their house and in their hearts…even until the end Granny smiled and joked. So funny. But mostly still when I think of them, I think of their unconditional love for me and for others. Love for their family and their ability to befriend and help take care of not only us but people they met in their everyday life. Sometimes complete strangers. My granny showed me what it was to love freely, unconditionally and forever. To not hold offense…by her love for me and by her love for others. She and my grandfather did not always speak their love, but they always without exception lived it.
Now that Granny has gone home, it is our turn to show what we learned from her. Did we learn what she taught us about that kind of love? Did we learn what she taught us about strength? One of my most vivid memories of granny was on the day after my father’s funeral. I was standing in the kitchen and I started to cry. This little woman put her hands on either side of my face and said “Stop that crying and be strong for your mother.” For many years I didn’t know what to make of that although I responded “yes ma’am” and tried hard to obey and for some reason I felt oddly comforted by it. Then I had kids of my own and came to realize that a mother will do whatever it takes to protect her child from pain. It is instinct. That was my granny loving and protecting her child. She was completely heartbroken that my mom was having to go through such pain. My granny loved her three girls. She was a strong woman and mother. There have been those that could not see her strength because they got wrapped up in the fact that she did not drive and had to depend on others. However, she was one of the strongest women that I have ever met and there is tangible evidence of that in not only her own life but also the daughters that she raised…they are all women who faced adversities in life and did so not only with strength but also grace. True overcomers.
These three lived what they were taught as they cared for granny. They have truly honored their mother and father and they honored God in this process. It was not always easy. It was hard to sit and watch someone you love so much slowly move away from you. It was hard sitting in silence without that mother that was once so full of conversation. It was hard not being recognized or remembered by the woman that once made you feel so special. Watching this person of such strength be childlike and in need of constant care was very hard . . . but what a joy when she would look up at you and smile or laugh at the story you were telling. What a delight when she would remember your name. It was hard, but in caring for Granny these women took what they learned from her and have shown us, the next generation and our children about love that is unconditional and forever and what it means to be a family. I have truly been blessed to know my granny and am still being blessed in knowing these women. They have taught me love.
The amazing thing about Granny’s kind of love is that this is also God’s love. God’s love is free. It is unconditional, forever, family and each of us His favorite. He is faithful and He loves you so much and He loves me so much that He will sometimes stop the world or allow circumstances in your life that will put a beautiful, gentle granny right next door to show you just a glimpse of that perfect love.
Nellie Josephine Crowe Burgess…she was my granny. She was my delight.