“She opens her mouth with wisdom and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.” Proverbs 31:26
Some days my heart aches. I can feel it in my chest, pounding away, sending out desperate signals for warmth and friendship. But the crisp chill of fall is in the air, and these warm summer days are taking their final bows. The dark curtain closes, and just like that, a new scene is upon us. This one is not to my liking.
Last week, we said goodbye to our grandma. She was 91 and had led a rich and full life. I suppose we should be happy that she passed quickly. But she was the type of person that had such a strong light, it seemed she could easily live to be 100. It’s hard to believe she is no longer with us.
Grandpa, her husband who passed seven years before her, once said he wished he had a nickel for every chocolate chip cookie she ever made. By now, her descendants would be wealthy. The supply from her hands to our mouths seemed limitless.
She loved her computer and tablet and soon learned how to make posts to Facebook and play “Words With Friends.” When I marveled at her abilities, she shrugged her shoulders and told me matter-of-factly that she had always been interested in computers.
That humble quality was attractive, perhaps because it is so rare in our modern world of social media selfies and one upmanship. It was common for her to take the worst seat at the table or sleep on the couch when we spent time at the family camp in Pennsylvania so that everyone else could have the beds.
Her home had that warm, comforting feeling that you might expect to feel at grandma’s house. The sheets on the beds were soft, the lazy boys sucked you in and kept you from getting up, the warm apple pie smell and rich hamburger and rice casserole or chicken potpies made you long to dig in.
You never went hungry at grandma’s house. Even the neighbor’s felt it. Every holiday, the bachelor next door would come fill his plate with the delicious food grandma prepared. Many of the neighbors came to her funeral and mourned her death and celebrated her life right alongside the family.
Grandma was a devout Lutheran and took her responsibilities seriously. When the pastor listed off all the many activities she led or was involved in, it took a full minute. The church lost a dependable and loving member the day she died.
I never knew my own grandparents, who passed away when I was two, but it was easy to adopt my husband’s grandma as my own. Although she had lots of grandkids, she showed me warmth and kindness and accepted me as a grandchild the moment I entered the family. She made me a homemade birthday cake every year, the pink frosting wishing me a happy birthday etched out in her scrawling grandma handwriting. Once when I was visiting, she brought out a special teacup she had gotten when she was first married and gave it to me as a keepsake. I was deeply touched.
She shared recipes with me, too. One summer we picked fresh rhubarb from her garden, and she showed me how to make her famous rhubarb jam. I have her chicken and noodle recipe, her peanut butter fudge and her recipe for a Jesus’s birthday cake, which she made every year and decorated with fresh evergreen and a crystal angel.
Grandma made me long for something more — to be better than I am. To be that light of goodness and compassion for my own family and to strangers. To welcome the outsiders in and share the warmth of grandma’s heart with them.
The world, and all of us, can use a few more grandmas like our grandma.