Lessons from my Grandmothers

I have both of my grandmothers on my mind this morning. Each one has been gone for many years now, but from time to time I still hear their voices echoing in my mind, bringing reminders of the lives they lived, the lessons they taught, and the hope they both imparted to me.

Both were very busy ladies, even in their old age, but busy by that time in different ways. Each one of them worked so hard, so much harder than I can even conceive of, to care for their families. No modern conveniences, no worldly prosperity, just hard-working, honest, loyal, good people who contributed richness far greater than the kind that can be held in the hand.

I often think of how Nanny, Mama’s mother, worked and “tilled the ground” until her death. She was in near constant motion all the years I observed her. When at home, she was busy in the kitchen, or piecing quilts, outside working in the vegetable garden, or in her flowers, on the back porch washing clothes in her old ringer washer.

Grandma Davis, Daddy’s mother, lived in south Georgia most of my life so when I spent time with her she was in our home, away from her environment, but still busy in her own way. Grandma was a thinker, a reader, a talker. She LOVED the Bible and studied it daily for most of her life. She would read and then lay back and shut her eyes. I then thought she was sleeping and maybe she was some of the time, but as I’ve grown up I’ve realized much of that time she was probably praying, praying for me, for my sister, for her other children and grandchildren. She would open her eyes, look over at me and ask, “Gal, what are you watching on that television?” or “what is it that you are reading?” “what are you working on, bring it here and let me see?” She was interested in what I was busying my mind with and so often she would bring our conversation around to the Lord. She loved Him. She wanted me to love Him, and all these years later she would be so glad to know that I do.

To those of you who know me (and my son) well, you will not be surprised to learn that both of my Grandmothers were vigorous talkers. They could each talk a blue streak on their own and when they were together the chattering would ring from one end of the house to the other!

Grandma Davis was, as one of Daddy’s friends put it, “the last of the old south.” She had long hair that she wore in a bun on top of her head, no makeup, no ruffles or frills, but with a beauty that radiated throughout her entire life and could not be dampened by age. Her skin was still smooth, fair, and soft even when she died in her nineties. So sweet to rub against with my own soft cheek when she embraced me each time she came to visit. She was round and loved to eat. Would sometimes say while lingering at the table, “now I am not eating from hunger, I am eating for the pure joy of it!” Her smile was warm and deep, she didn’t put on. What you saw was what was real. I loved that about her. I still do.

Nanny was dark, partly from genes, partly from the sun. She was wrinkled from those long days spent working on the farm and she was much smaller in stature than Grandma. She was what I call “earthy.” Nanny wore pants and old shirts that were “comfortable” and good for working in. She was a natural beauty as well, but she would never have believed it. She was olive skinned and dark-haired with deep brown eyes. She was always ready with a quick wit and loved to laugh. She loved the Lord too, but talked less about it than Grandma. When she did decide to talk about Him, though, it was a deep and true adoration she had for the Lord, a great reverence for Him and His ways. She loved Him and wanted her children and grandchildren to love Him as well. I remember her saying she wanted to live long enough to see all of her grandchildren saved.

What a gift to know the hearts of those from whom we came.

This morning while getting ready for the day, I happened to remember Grandma talking about death. She was no stranger to it. She lost an eight-year-old son while raising three others and within a year or two from then she also lost her mother and one of her sisters. Before she died, she had to bury another one of her children, her oldest son. I well remember her grief. Don’t you know it brought back that earlier loss of her precious little boy?

After talking a while to me about what it had been like losing all those loved ones and Grandpa too after so many years of marriage she said, “when we are out there burying our loved ones who have gone on to be with the Lord, we should be singing to the top of our lungs ‘We Shall Rise, Hallelujah, We Shall Rise!” She then went on to talk of the promises in scripture that assure all of us who believe that indeed we shall rise and be carried up to glory to live forever with The Lord.

I guess that sums up the greatest gifts I’ve received from my Grandmothers. They both knew the Lord and they were sure to share their hope in Him with me. They both walked with Him on journeys that taught them many lessons too precious not to share with the little ones who joined them on their walk through this life.

I don’t aspire to be more than what they were. If only my legacy can be one of hope that pleases the Lord and helps my children and grandchildren reach out and place their hands in the hand of the Lord to walk with Him, to live in a way that brings honor to Him, then I will have done what my heart desires the most.

I hope this brings back good memories for you of special people who have enriched your life with goodness and love as that is what these memories I’ve shared have done for me!

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