“We lost Grandma.”
The words spilled out from the other side of my phone. My breath shortened as I realized that someone who had been a constant in my life for 29 years was now abruptly written out of the story. Death has a way of putting life into perspective. To be honest, it has been almost 20 years since I had grieved a loss, so as an adult it was a foreign process to me.
I have realized as an adult how grateful I am for some key players in my life; people who have poured into my life regularly even when I was difficult. Grandma was one of those people who I admired fiercely. In the past years, whenever I wrote her a celebratory card, I tried to put this feeling into words and express my gratitude for her.  And when I signed “sincerely” I prayed that my message would be conveyed in the passion it had been written.
But I don’t think my words will ever repay the debt for the life lessons she has taught me, like how to give and love.
How to give
There was one year when I was saving for a school trip to NY and without a steady job I was heavily dependent on my birthday and Christmas money to go. I shamelessly told this to anyone who asked what I wanted for Christmas. And I always knew Grandma would provide for me. So when I received a measly $30 for Christmas from her, I was furious. I went to my older sister and vented on how this wouldn’t even make a dent in my debt. I kept ranting, and my sister just turned to me and said, “Rachel…. Grandma doesn’t have a job. She is literally giving you everything she has. How dare you insult such a loving and sacrificial gift.”  My sister’s words stung. I sat there incredibly humbled and upset at my selfish heart. And it was on that day I had a major heart change and I decided I was going to be like grandma. I was going to pour my entire self into my gifts as she had done. And while I may not be able to give much money I was going to pour my time into finding exactly what the person wanted.  It was the moment I changed from getting excited about receiving, to being ecstatic instead about giving.
How to love others
When grandma came to visit she put the word “house guest” to shame. She showed me how a visitor could truly bless the household she was visiting.  She didn’t want to stay in the guest room; she wanted to sleep upstairs with the family. She would help mom make dinner and clean up. Whenever she was there for a party, wedding shower, or just a visit she was pouring into the household. She was the first to help us unpack our house when we moved and always brought snacks and treats for us when she came. And when she would rest we would always see her read her Bible and would often read it aloud to us when we were nearby. If grandma had a soul tattoo, it would be the word “faithful” etched on her heart.  She loved people fiercely even if it was just by being present. From graduations to weddings, she was there always helping in some way, shape, or form.
When I went up to Missouri for the funeral, my family got to stay at her house one last time. As I walked the stairs, I realized this was probably the last time I would even venture up these stairs, smell Grandma’s home, or feel the anticipation of feeling truly at home in her presence. But grandma I smile because while I no longer have you here, the impact you left on me will outlive even my life. And I am incredibly thankful for that.
Love you Grandma.
Rachel Way