Updated: Aug 17
The earliest memories I have of my Grandma take place at their acreage in the country; stuck in raspberry bushes, picking flowers and covered with grease, from working in the shop with Grandpa. I remember she always brought a hearty coffee break to the shop, buns and jam, or cookies. When another farmer came onto the yard, she would always go back to the house to get more, so everyone had enough.
As we got older, we climbed trees, jumped into the full grain trucks getting corn stuck in our ears, and played baseball at family gatherings. When we were all together, she never sat down, always cooking, serving and cleaning.
She would tell us fairy tales at bedtime, feed us ice cream when we were home sick from school, and play games with us. She loved it when we would brush her hair, causing us cousins to fight about whose turn it was.
Such sweet memories growing up.
My Grandma worked hard at home, she served in her church and prayed for us daily. I think about all her prayers for us, and see in many different ways how those prayers we answered.
Thinking over her life, of everything she modelled and taught me, I landed on something she exemplified, probably the first thing she ever showed me, and the last: Joy.
Joy In Work
My Grandma knew what it was like to work hard. In the days she grew up in, she couldn't go to high school, because her parents needed help on the farm. She would marry and move to her own farmyard, with a large acreage to take care of, two huge gardens where she grew her fruits and vegetables, which she would preserve for the winter months.
Yet, she never complained about all her work. In fact, she would tell us that "there's not a chore that I don't enjoy doing".
As I remember her speaking these words, I am immensely humbled. How many "chores" do I have, at home, or at work, that I don't enjoy, or even avoid? It's actually embarrassing to think about the little tasks that I inwardly moan at. Such small things, but I can so easily turn them into a begrudging task with a sour attitude.
Joy, even in the midst of work to do, is godly character and a fruit of the Spirit.
"Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord, not for men" (Col 3:23)
We serve the Lord, in everything we do, from laundry and dishes, caring for and discipling our children, to our professional tasks at work. Yes, it is all done in the sight of God, for the glory of God.
Joy in Death
In May this year, Grandma began to have trouble with her vision, and with writing. A scan showed that she had an aggressive brain tumour, which would be terminal. She forewent any heroic measures for treatment, and asked that family try to keep her home as long as possible.
We would go to visit her, and sing with her, always at least one round of 'Jesus loves me'. As she lay on her bed, she would tell us two things over and over, how much she loved us, and how she loved her Jesus.
She had deep contentment in the life God had given her; she was thankful and grateful for all His blessings.
I realized that I am not prone to be joyful. But reflecting on the impact she made most in my life, was exactly what I needed as a child and now also as an adult, joy.
In Scripture, Paul teaches us the value of joy and contentment in Philippians 4:
"Rejoice in the Lord always." (Phil 4:4)
And through Grandma's life, she adopted this practice consistently. Through my work at the hospital, I've been part of moments of life, and of death. There are many ways that families and patients cope with the passing of life, and Grandma's beautiful anticipation of being with her Savior reminds me of the constant hope we have of our eternity, when we live our lives to love and follow Him.
At her graveside service this weekend, we experienced a beautiful morning and shared a beautiful time remembering her life and her legacy. Grandma will continue to compel me toward a life of joy, to take the tasks I want to avoid, and accomplish them with contentment; to remember my Savior and live with anticipation of being with Him.
What lessons have your grandparents taught you?