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.
This is a hymn attributed to St. Colmcille, a Christian missionary, monk, saint from the sixth century in Ireland. He produced beautifully illuminated scripture manuscripts, established many monasteries in Ireland, and showed the love of Christ to others through his lifelong service.
After some years however, an event occurred which changed the entire direction of his life. The Battle of the Book, a fight resulting from a legal battle over an illuminated manuscript he was accused of copying from another, took place in the valley near the Drumcliffe Monastery. Many died, and Colmcille felt horrible. The weight of sin, the effects of greed and human pride, weighed heavily upon him. He left Ireland and eventually sailed to establish a very influential monastery, Iona, off the coast of Scotland. He used this heartache and remorse to let God use him in a new and mighty way for the rest of his life. Mistakes didn’t mean the end for him. After repentance and prayer, God redirected him and continued to use him.
History has a way of calming me. Somehow, by reading the lives of others who have gone before me, the struggles and challenges they faced, the faith they showed through difficult times, lets me know that nothing is new under the sun. Hard times come, hard times go, but Jesus Christ remains constant and faithful to be with us through all of these times.
Call upon the Name of the Lord. He is the only answer for what you face, what I face. He will answer.