When my dear Nannie was in her 90s, she would call herself an “old stick.” We would always lovingly tell her that she was definitely not an old stick and that she was beautiful. That God still had a purpose for her. We talked a lot about how she could pray for people. That she had the time and the heart to do so. And I know she did. Nannie loved her God, loved her church, and loved her family. And so she prayed to her heavenly Father as she sat in her chair. She was a fruitful, beautiful branch attached to the Vine.
Sometimes I feel hopeless in many situations. What can I do? What can possibly help? The only thing that can help many times is prayer. Turning that person or situation over to Jesus our Shepherd.
When you don’t know what to do, pray. If you don’t know God, pray. Ask Him to show you that He is real. He will.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.” – John 15:5
The more years that I add to my life, the more I realize the wisdom of my grandparents. I was blessed with wonderful grandparents that were of the generation that worked hard, loved quietly, stayed steady, and complained little. I was young, self-absorbed, and took them for granted. But I loved them, nevertheless, and I pray that they knew that.
As hard days seem never-ending and compounding lately in our country and our world, I have particularly been thinking about my maternal grandmother, who we all called Nannie. She was born in 1902, into a big family. She faced many early hardships and losses. Family losses, major moves, the Great Depression, both World Wars.
But through it all, she kept going. She worked hard. She loved her family. She didn’t quit.
I am remembering, and I will try to do the same. Here are some random memories and lessons I have been thinking of:
Hard work helps to overcome anxieties. Nannie must have had anxieties, but she worked. Hard. Cooking, canning, sewing, mending, babysitting grandchildren. And when she sat, she kept her mind busy with constant crossword puzzles.
Saving things for a rainy day is a good idea. Having gone through the depression and WWII, Nannie knew about economic challenges and shortages. She saved foil and plastic bags. She would wash them carefully, dry them, and fold to use again. She reused gift wrap and bows. She had reusable glass jars and wooden pegs and rope. We used to laugh about all the things Nannie had in her basement, but now I understand. She was ready for anything. She did not waste and randomly buy new things. She was careful with the family money.
Music helps to calm and buoy the soul. Nannie loved music, especially the tunes of her Irish grandmother. She would hum them frequently, and loved watching The Lawrence Welk Show and Joe Feeney.
Loving your husband, your children, and your grandchildren is a noble and wonderful thing. Nannie and Granddaddy met each other in 6th grade, and loved each other almost immediately. He loved her smile. They didn’t get married until she was twenty-five for various reasons, but they had a solid, steady relationship. The biggest smile I ever saw on Nannie’s face was one particular Christmas, when he held her hand, and she smiled at him. They were usually so busy, that I had never seen that before. But it deeply affected my child’s heart. Nannie showed her love to her children and grandchildren by cooking amazing foods, sewing them clothes, mending, being there always.
Church and her faith in God were her bedrock. Nannie loved her church, her church family, her God. She always talked to us about it, and was a faithful member all her life. She is now a citizen of Heaven, and I so look forward to seeing her again. As the days continue, I am more and more thankful for my church family. They are there for us, supporting and praying. This will become more and more vital as these days become very challenging.
I could write on and on with many more lessons from my grandmother. I’m sure many of you also have wonderful memories and lessons from your grandparents. I would dearly love to hear any of them that you would care to share.
I miss hearing the stories. The stories of when our parents and grandparents were young. How they worked hard on the farm, had to go to school through waist high snow drifts, how they cheered for the football team, how they met and fell in love, their hopes and dreams.
I have been working on recording our family histories and memories, and I realize how egocentric I was as a younger person. I could have heard hundreds of wonderful stories that would have made the people I love come to life in a whole new way in my mind. But I missed so many of them by not asking. The ones I do know and heard I treasure like little nuggets of gold.
So I am trying better now. To listen, to ask, to actually see the person I am talking to. To imagine their life through their eyes. And it has been wonderful.