Today would be my grandmother’s birthday. She passed on about ten years ago, after a series of strokes that first confined her to a wheelchair and eventually made her an invalid. She spent years slowly declining, but she didn’t complain a bit. Her last year or two were spent mostly in bed as her quality of life became practically nonexistent. When we got the phone call that she was gone, I felt no sadness — just relief. All I could do was thank God that she was finally out of her misery.
I am a lot like her, people tell me. She loved to cook, to entertain, to decorate. She was always changing things up around the house. She wasn’t a particularly warm person, but I knew she loved me.
I have her wedding china. She has two daughters, but one didn’t want it, and as for the other, well, I’ll spare you the family drama. Suffice it to say, I got it! It’s the Apple Blossom pattern by Haviland. It’s beautiful and old-fashioned, and when I use it, I imagine her as a young bride, entertaining on the same plates.
I also have her Kitchen Aid mixer that she gave me when she was no longer able to cook. I don’t think she had it long before it came to me, and it’s still going strong; I’ve had it for over twelve years.
I used to send her my famous peanut butter balls, and she would hide them up high on a shelf so my Granddad wouldn’t eat them! That always tickled me. I don’t know how she reached them from her wheelchair, but my cousin told me once that when she was visiting, our grandmother said to her, “You want a treat?” and then instructed her where to find the tin of peanut butter balls on the high shelf. Maybe she waited until she had visitors to get her fix.
On our last visit, I was engaged to be married. My fiance (now my husband) was a recent seminary graduate, and he was preparing to go into the pastoral ministry. (He never pursued that, incidentally, but that’s a story for another time.) My grandmother had been a pastor’s wife for over 50 years, so I asked her if she had any advice for a future pastor’s wife.
Her speech was very limited, due to the strokes, but she managed to garble the following words: “Develop a thick skin.”
I’ve never forgotten her wise words. Although I never became a pastor’s wife, I have repeated that advice to many others along the way. And I suppose it applies to many roles in this life. I try not to get offended by much. Life’s easier that way.