Someday soon Christians will all meet in heaven with new heavenly bodies. We will still be a community of saints, but how will we communicate? Will it be reading minds, hand signals, voices, or song? Will our speech be sprinkled with accents? I don’t know the answer to these questions, but I know we’ll be praising the Lord with hearty “Alleluias.”
The first time I heard a foreign accent was when I was three years old. My family took a long trip from Detroit to the beautiful, quaint town of Escanaba, Michigan. I was really excited to be on vacation, but even more excited to meet my Swedish great grandmother, Grandma Stenstrom, who lived there.
When we finally arrived, Grandma stormed out of the door with tears streaming and crying, “Godaga, Ja, Godaga!”
“Grandma,” Mommy said, “you’re beautiful and spunky as ever,” and they fell into each other’s arms.
I had never seen such an old woman before. Her face was creased with wrinkles; her neck was plump with folds; and her silver hair sparkled in the sunlight. She wore a rose printed, pressed, and tidy housedress with a white starched apron. She made a striking appearance, and warmth emanated from her bright emerald eyes and her enchanting smile.
Grandma and Mommy hugged and kissed for a long time. Grandma whispered loving, comforting Swedish words to Mommy and Daddy. I couldn’t understand them, but they had a lilting sound, like a gentle stream flowing over small pebbles. I had just learned to talk myself, and I was fascinated.
Mommy took me by the hands and placed me in Grandma’s warm arms. “This is my little girl, I’m so proud of her,” Mommy said.
“Oh, liten vela, pretty flika,” Grandma cooed. Her soothing words were like a melody to my ears. I was a little afraid yet was calmed by this new language.
Over the five days we spent with Grandma, I grew to love and admire her. In the mornings we’d eat the best Swedish pancakes ever made. Confusion set in when the big meal of the day was served at noon. Then we had savory fried chicken coated and fried in pure sweet butter. Needless to say, no one went hungry with Grandma in charge.
We spent time in her rose garden. Her green thumb was magical. Rose bushes of red, pink, and white strategically planted thrived in the well-nourished soil.
Picnics were held in the most beautiful historical parks. Some were Indian burial grounds, which interested me very much.
Grandma also took us for car rides along the lakeshore where we swirled and swerved in her old Ford. It was like a harrowing rollercoaster ride! We’d cling to the seats with all our lives, terrified. All the while she would chatter in half Swedish and English with that charming rhythmic accent.
Sometimes I would entertain the adults with my childish renditions of “Jesus Loves Me” and “How Much is that Doggie in the Window.” They’d greet each number with applause, hoots, and hollers of “Ja! Ja! Ja!” I’d be so pleased.
Most of all I loved being held in her soft, cuddly arms. She’d rock and mournfully sing songs from her old home and family in Sweden. No famous celebrity could perform those songs, “Amazing Grace” and “If I had the Wings of an Angel,” the way she did. I’d rest my sleepy head on her tender bosom and fall asleep.
I had several encounters with Grandma all my life and cherished each one of them. I’ll never forget those sparkling emerald eyes and that sing-song speech. Best of all and thankfully, she was a Christian and a wonderful role model.
Grandma lived to the ripe old age of ninety. I’m certain she’s in heaven with Jesus and all the saints. Now, I look forward to my heavenly home and being with God and Grandma again. When I finally rest my eyes upon Grandma, I’ll rejoice singing, “Grandma, I love you!” And, she’ll reply, "Ja, my liten vela, Ja!"
Note: Godaga – good day Ja – yes, good Liten vela – little darling Flika - girl
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