Yesterday was Mother’s Day. And as I got dressed for church, I found myself thinking about my grandmothers. Grandma Polly passed away about five years ago; this was the first Mother’s Day without my Grandma Ruby. I missed them both.
So before I rushed out the door trying not to be late for choir, I slipped on my Grandma Polly’s garnet ring and my Grandma Ruby’s bracelet. I needed to take pieces of them with me as I honored them on Mother’s Day.
Those women were a big part in making me who I am, more than just pieces of jewelry.
My Grandma Polly taught me about perseverance, having faith when you can’t see, and a little of what it means to be unconditionally loved. When I was growing up it never occurred to me, but as I look back now as an adult, I
realize that her life was pretty hard. Her newlywed years were interrupted by a World War that send her husband to Europe and left her at home in Missouri with a young son. She bought their first house while he was gone, a house Grandpa would spend much of the next 20 years remodeling as time and money allowed. Her marriage wasn’t perfect; in fact, at times it was downright difficult. My grandfather didn’t become a Christian until later in life, and the mixture of his temper and her stubbornness was sometimes like oil on a fire. My grandfather and my uncle were so much alike, and their dueling tempers and opinions led to arguments and fist fights in the living room. That life is hard for me to imagine, because the Grandpa I knew had been changed by Christ, but it’s the childhood my mother has told me about, not with condemnation or complaint, just wanting me to know. My grandmother held on to her faith, sometimes with white knuckles, I have to believe, always praying for her husband to realize the gospel was even true for him. She persevered; she prayed; she served others. She survived long stints when my grandfather, a mechanic, was on unemployment. She may not have been perfect, but she loved well and she was committed to her God, her husband, and her family. And as her only granddaughter, she taught me that I was special and that no matter what, I was loved.
When I think about my Grandma Ruby, I often think about her decidedly unmanicured nails and work-worn hands. My Grandma Ruby was the mother of six kids and the wife of Wenzil until the day she died, even though he passed away in 1976. She taught me about being faithful, about being a strong woman, and about loving well and living generously. Her life wasn’t easy either. She and my grandfather started out with next to nothing and through hard work, became the owners of a small farm. They worked for everything they had, and if you asked or needed something, they’d give it to you. She had six children, four boys and two girls, and she sought to raise them well. Early in their marriage, my grandparents’ house burned and they lost almost everything. She and my granddad studied for their GED and took night classes to finish their high school degrees, even as they were raising their children. My grandma was a generous woman, always ready to help others, always welcoming people to her table. I can think of countless times she stopped in at our house on her way home, just to drop off a treasure she’d found that she thought we’d like, from bracelets to cooking pots to who knows what. I missed her yesterday, missed her twinkling eyes and ready smile, the way she would pat me on the arm.
I don’t think I’ll ever stop missing my grandmothers on this earth. They were strong women who helped to teach me what it means to be a woman, and I think God for them. What a privilege and honor it has been to be their granddaughter. I’m thankful that they are a part of me. Always.