Friday, January 3, 2014

Grandma Opal

I know most kids think their grandma is the best ever, but they're wrong, because mine was.  I grew up living next door to her, so she was quite literally always there for me.  My bedroom window faced her bedroom window, and we would wave good night to each other and send various messages in our own form of sign language.  Somehow, she always had time for me and everyone else.  She was a great listener and truly cared about people.  When I was young, I thought she was perfect (even now, I still believe she was very close to it!).

We used to take a lot of walks together, and from my childish perspective, I thought she was the fastest walker in the world!  One beautiful fall evening, we were out walking, and we noticed the pavement ahead looked like it was moving.  As we got closer, we saw a huge herd of fuzzy caterpillars migrating from one side of the road to the other.  We stopped and stared.  There must have been thousands of them.  Grandma Opal wondered right along with me about how and why there were so many crossing the road at the same time. I've never seen anything like it before or since.  Grandma had a great sense of wonder and curiosity.  She was always looking things up in books.  She would have loved Google! 

Grandma took each of us grandkids on a birthday trip every year, starting when we turned six.  I remember going to the zoo, going to movies, having a picnic on Grandview Drive, and other special times with Grandma for my birthday. The tradition she started lives on; my parents take each of their grandkids on a birthday trip every year, and I intend to do it with mine someday.  When we graduated from 8th grade, Grandma Opal made each us of a scrapbook, full of pictures, stories and notes we'd written, programs from recitals, articles from newspapers, etc.  I still have my book.  In it is a poem that Grandma Opal wrote about the first birthday trip she took me on:

I remember one Mother's Day when I was about five years old,  I went to Grandma's house crying, because I didn't have anything to give my mom.  She pulled out the box of craft supplies she kept under her bed and helped me make a Mother's Day card, and I felt better.  She always made everything better.  One winter when I was sick in bed and couldn't go out to play in the snow, she made a big snowman outside my window
with a sign that said "Get well soon!"  One summer day, it was my job to ride my bike to the Harding farm to buy a dozen eggs.  I put them in the basket on the front of my bike and started home.  The gravel road was bumpy, and I hit a hole and the carton of eggs went flying up in the air.  It crashed hard back into my basket, and every egg was broken.  I was afraid I would be in trouble for breaking the eggs, so I was upset.  Grandma Opal worked at the post office, so I stopped by there on my way home to ask her advice.  She thought for awhile, then said, "Well, you could tell your mom that you have some good news and some bad news. The good news is...we're having scrambled eggs for supper!" 

I'm sure all of us grandkids have memories of playing library and dress-up in her attic.  We had many family gatherings at her house for holidays, birthdays, and celebrations of all kinds.  She kept her basement pantry shelf stocked with cherry Juicy Juice, because she knew we liked it.

She was the family seamstress.  She hemmed and mended lots of clothes for her children, grandchildren, and our spouses.  She even made my prom dress when I was in high school.  She let me pick the fabric and the pattern, and she even let me help with the sewing, although I'm sure it would have been easier without my "help." 

Whenever I had a big load of dirty dishes to wash, I would call Grandma.  She would always say, "Oh, I have some dishes to do too. Let's talk while we wash, so it will go faster."  I used to think it was quite a coincidence that she always had dishes to wash at the same time I did.  Now I think maybe she just pretended for my sake.  I still can't wash dishes without thinking of her and wishing I could talk to her. She used to be a great conversationalist.  She loved to tell stories and write them down.  She passed that love on to me. 

I was with her just a few hours before she died.  I played the songs she liked to hear on my harp.  Even after her mind was gone and she stopped talking, she would always sing the words to "Going Home" when I played it:
Going home, going home,
I'm just going home.
Quiet-like, slip away-
I'll be going home.
It's not far, just close by;
Jesus is the Door;
Work all done, laid aside,
Fear and grief no more.
Friends are there, waiting now.
He is waiting, too.
See His smile! See His hand!
He will lead me through.

Morning Star lights the way;
Restless dream all done;
Shadows gone, break of day,
Life has just begun.
Every tear wiped away,
Pain and sickness gone;
Wide awake there with Him!
Peace goes on and on!
Going home, going home,
I'll be going home.
See the Light! See the Sun!
I'm just going home. 

I cry because I miss her so much, but there is deep peace and joy in my heart, because I know she's with Jesus. She knew Him and trusted Him, so I know I'll see her again and get to be with her for eternity.  The last thing I said to her on the night I knew she was going to die was, "Go be with Jesus."  And she did. 

1 comment:

Jenjo11 said...

What a sweet tribute. So very sorry about your grandma.