Shannon Ferend was the kind of girl who loved people. She especially loved to help them. Also, a special place had been carved in Shannon’s heart for those who were, shal we say, elderly. So was it any wonder that the lack of grandparents, especially grandmothers in her life was a less than satisfactory state of affairs? Not that she had no grandparents. In fact, only one of her grandmothers was dead. However, those that had not yet taken there last journeys lived far away.
As a result, Shannon did not grow up with memories of sitting and listening to Grandma tell stories, going places with Grandma, or baking with Grandma. Neither did she grow up with grandmothers who would teach her things and enspire her. Or, did she? The Lord works all things out for good and Shannon’s life was no exception.
Family is not simply made of those related to us by blood. That is simply not biblical, and from the time she was twelve, Shannon Ferend began to learn this first hand. First there was Oma, a Finnish woman who, though she had been in the country quite a few years, had retained many of her “old world” tendencies. This was by no means a bad thing for Shannon. In fact, she liked Oma that way. Oma spoke German, hence the name Oma (Grandma in German), which Shannon lovingly used and Shannon was learning the language in school. This meant both of them could get
in some practice once in a while. A grandma helps her grand children succeed. Oma was also that beloved kind of grandma who will feed you to the gills and then try to get you to eat more. The one certainty at Oma’s was that she’d try to feed Shannon and whoever had driven her to visit. Finally, Oma was the motivating grandma. You see, Shannon was blind and as a result, Oma had trouble believing that she could do things for herself. As a result, Shannon finally began to step out and strive to become more independent. The good news was that it worked.
It sounds like Oma fit the bill as a grandmother for Shannon, which she did in part, but she was not the only grandma that the Lord blessed her with. There were five others. Two of these were Sue and Lidia. They were the encouragers, the helpers, the grandmas who would hang out and take Shannon places. Sue and Shannon had known each other for many years before they adopted each other. Shannon liked to think of it as becoming related by mutual agreement. Sue would take Shannon to to shop for needed items at times, especially on the days when they were just hanging out and Sue had some shopping of her own to do. However the best times for Shannon were the days when they had definite plans. On these days, it was not at all odd for Shannon to report to her mother that she and Sue had spent two hours at the Good Will and then gone to the library. They both liked to shop for dishes and Shannon was a book worm. Sue would take her and read the book jackets so Shannon would have an idea as to whether she would like a particular book. It was a thing that not many were willing to do and Shannon was inexpressibly grateful.
She was also inexpressibly grateful to Lidia. Lidia was a little older than Sue, but that did not matter. What mattered was that Shannon had a grandma who would help her follow her dream. Shannon had always wanted to be able to visit the elderly, one of her ideas of a good time. However the people had this “obserd” notion that blind people should not be allowed to drive. The summer Shannon was twenty, she was given an opportunity to go with Lidia and visit some of the shut-ins of their church. Over the course of that summer, they visited more people than those who were from their church, but there was no law saying they could not, so they did. Lidia and Shannon did other things together too, like having pancakes for supper when Shannon spent the night and going to see Shannon’s old friend whom she had not seen in a good while.
So now Shannon had the grandmas who motivated, fattened, spoiled, encouraged, and helped Shannon follow her dreams., but they were not all. There were two other grandmas whom Shannon sometimes fondly thought of as “the two sisters.” Willamay and Ula were almost always together. If Shannon ran in to one of them at church or some church function, she was sure to run in to the other. Willamay was for Shannon the grandma that comforted. She saw Shannon in some hard times and all she did was hug, pray, and take her out to dinner. She was also the grandma who knew how to have a good laugh. Almost every time they saw one another, one or both would have her funny bone tickled. This was also true when it came to Ula. She was the goofy grandma, who knew how to tell stories and loved to party. She liked nothing better than to come to a party at church. Her nickname was “Party Animal.”
Ula was also a good grandma for greeting a body with a hug, which served to make her like Millie, Shannon’s last adopted grandma, but certainly not the least of them. She was the comforting grandma like Willamay, but in a different way. Millie helped Shannon to learn one of her hardest lessons, how to grieve. Shannon never forgot this. However, Millie was also the grandma who taught Shannon how to cook. Not only that, but she taught Shannon the old fashioned way, from scratch. For example, Millie made pie like no one else Shannon knew and she used real vanilla, made the cream instead of using the kind you get in a box, and made her own crust.
This topped it off for Shannon. After Millie became the sixth grandma, she felt she had it all. Not that she would refuse to adopt anymore if they came along, but the void was filled. The lord had supplied as he always does. He had also given Shannon lasting and true friendships. For is not a grandma’s best quality that she is also a friend?