Drool ran down her lip and I could see dark teeth behind her lips and the gums receding from them. Grandma sat crooked in the wheelchair with her back and head slumped over. Once she was a beautiful and stately woman.
There was a six week hospital stay and three weeks in hospice. Daddy called. She was gone. I went up to say good bye. I’d never seen the shell before, not right after it happened. Death was uglier than I thought.
She loved her jewelery, but never kept it behind a vault or a lock and key. It was hung about the room, precious to be seen by all, and played with by little hands, but the greatest jewel of all was Grandma herself. You’ve heard of the Jewel of the Nile? Well, Grandma was the Jewel of the Allegheny. Her heart was pure gold. It was the setting for the gem stone she was. “Her worth is far above rubies.” Proverbs 31:10b.
Her heart was knit tightly with two men in her lifetime. First to Bill in her youth, to whom she bore two sons, and then to Chink who helped her enjoy many Grandchildren.
Bill was a man of great character. He lived with a painful and fatal kidney disease that was a mystery in those days. He could not work for many years before his death, so Grandma provided, and the boys ran paper routes. Then Bill was gone. He had lived and died with Jesus.
Chink was a tender man. They ran away to get married. He bought a restaurant and bar, and they lived above it for years. As a child, my memories are of a greasy smelly restaurant, snatching raw potato fries from the walk in fridge, talking to the cook in the kitchen, and when Grandma wasn’t looking, washing shot glasses in the bar with Pap Pap. He didn’t know Jesus, and neither did I yet. He was my Grandfather. I thanked Grandma many times before she left for giving me my Pap Pap. He came to know Jesus three weeks before his home going. Grandma told me a revealing thing later. He used to thank her for giving him all his Grandkids. “The heart of her husband safely trusts in her.” Proverbs 31:11a.
When I was born Grandma came from Pennsylvania to Alaska and brought little knitted things. When I shared my baby was coming she gave me a white knitted baby blanket. “She seeks wool and flax, and willingly works with her hands.” Proverbs 31:13.
She used to visit us no matter where the service sent us, whether it was overseas or the next state over, and she always brought homemade cookies. “She is like a merchant ship and brings her food from afar.” Proverbs 31:14.
Some people have a green thumb. Grandma was green clear up to her elbow. She could make anything grow. Sometimes it seemed like plants nearly came back from the dead for her. Nothing was ever a lost cause to her, not a plant, not a situation, and certainly not a person. “From her profits she plants a vineyard.” Proverbs 31:16b.
Grandma worked hard in a glass factory, and in a school cafeteria to make ends meet. They often did not meet. Prayer took charge. God took over. “She girds herself with strength, and strengthens her arms.” Proverbs 31:17.
Grandma made projects for Missionaries. “Yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy.” Proverbs 31:20b.
Her words were always sweetheart, honey, I love you, can I give you a kiss. What’s in your heart? “On her tongue is the law of kindness.” Proverbs 31:26b.
Even when she sat she was busy with her hands darning, crocheting, knitting, tatting, or sewing for a loved one. “She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness.” Proverbs 31:27.
There were children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and even a great, great grandchild, before the grave consumed her life. “Her children rise up and call her blessed.” Proverbs 31:28a.
Grandma is no longer stately or beautiful. *“Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised." At her home going celebration we all speak of her, but Proverbs 31 speaks of her forever. So *“give her the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates.” The gates of pearl are opened, singing her welcome home.
*Proverbs 31:30-31 (NKJV)
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