When I think about my Grandma Rose, so many memories flood my mind. I think of all the family road trip vacations to Colorado and the other parts of the US. I remember how Grandma knew I loved apple pie and always had one freshly made whenever we would visit and the powerful influence it and her pancakes became on my love of fresh whole wheat flour. I remember one time at her home in Belleville where I read the plot to an unusual Star Trek episode, and the whole time she’s trying to process it and saying “I don’t know… I just don’t know” struggling to wrap her mind around an entirely unhuman perspective.
And I will never ever forget how my Grandma, in the nursing home with her mind fading away, played me in Chinese Checkers, which she hadn’t played in decades. You may not know this, but my Grandma was the Tiger Woods of Chinese Checkers. The whole time we played she was complaining about how poor she was doing and how it wasn’t fair to play me and then kind-hearted people would come by to offer her help (because she would miss obvious moves) while somehow always mopping the floor with me even while missing those moves. We played something like 20 or 30 games and I only barely beat her twice and only because she had worn down. I tried every strategy I could think of.. even to the point of just trying to frustrate what she was doing, and the only thing that came remotely close was simply trying to mirror what she did. When we’d play in a group, I would have to tell everyone not to help her because she will beat us all on her own… we’re just playing for second place. And that’s exactly what would happen.
I remember my grandparents teaching me about saving, about living on as little as possible, about the importance of giving, and if you’re going to do something, do it well and have fun and joke around while you do it.
Most of all, I remember how much my Grandma loved God. I remember how much Grandma loved to play the piano and sing to God – the only songs she knew were hymns – and it didn’t matter whether it was at church or at home, she’d start playing and singing with her eyes closed to the one she loved as her hands danced all over the keyboard. I remember morning and evening reading the Bible and prayer, and Saturday evenings would be about the next day’s Sunday School passage. And most of all, I remember my grandparents’ prayers. I remember how they would intercede with God for their family, their friends, their church, and Jewell… that God would protect them, guide them, and bring them closer to Himself and away from sin and half-hearted Christianity. Over time, their cries to God influenced me as I came to share in those prayers with them, longing to see them come to reality in a way that they could see the results. I got to see how much they cared about the Jewell community and how deeply rooted they were here.
And the last thing to ever go for my Grandma, even after years in the nursing home, was prayer. When she could barely string 3 words together to the rest of us and probably didn’t even recognize us, she could somehow still approach God and intercede and communicate with Him.
Even though I’ve lived a much more mobile and less rooted style of life from my grandparents, I hope that somehow when I die, I will be as firmly connected to my community, to following God, and to leading my family and church as they did. Just like Chinese Checkers, the best strategy is to mirror my Grandma.