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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "Make Hay While the Sun Shines" (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (03/06/08)

TITLE: Whistling To The Lord (a true story)
By Yvonne Blake


“Mama,” my little girl whispered, “Grammy is holding her book upside down.”

I glanced over to my mother-in-law, and smiled. Sure enough, her hymn book was upside down, but it didn’t matter. She had forgotten how to read. Her short, gray hair stood up in back, and she was wearing a pink, stained sweat suit. The nurses at the boarding home didn’t like to fuss with long hair and fancy church dresses.

I loved her. She had welcomed me into her family and never treated me with the actions of the dreaded, jealous mother-in-law. In fact, since my husband was her youngest child, she was more like a grandmother to me than a mother. She listened to my immature, newlywed worries. She taught me how to bake biscuits, to gather blueberries, and to knit mittens. She played with my babies and shared the abundance of her gardens.

“He lives! He lives! Christ Jesus lives today…” Grammy lifted her face and closed her eyes. It didn’t matter that she couldn’t read, she knew all the words. The pastor asked us to remain standing for the prayer, but Grammy sat down, muttering, “Hurting…hurting.”

I tried to focus on the sermon, but mind was divided between keeping my little ones occupied with crayons and making sure Grammy didn’t try to fix the collar of the lady in front of us. She saw me opening my Bible. Taking one from the rack, she began turning the pages one at a time. It kept her busy, so I didn’t attempt to help her.

The pastor read, “Who hath believed our report, and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed…” I heard another voice. It was Grammy. She was saying the words along with him. On and on they went throughout the whole chapter. “…he was numbered with the transgressors, and he bare the sins of many…” * Others may have thought she was reading it, but I knew better. She must have learned it sometime during her life. Could I say all of it without using my Bible?

Grammy had changed. Her mind had regressed to the point that she didn’t recognize her own children. She couldn’t identify dillweed from daisies. She accused people of stealing her glasses when she misplaced them. This wasn’t the real Grammy. The real Grammy and her abundance of knowledge and wisdom were locked away in a mind that became fuzzier each day… except for one part. God left one part intact, the part that could still praise His Name…the part that still worshiped Him.

As the pastor continued the sermon, Grammy fiddled with the bulletin, shredded her tissue then wiped her nose on her sleeve, and picked at a fuzz ball on the front of her shirt. Soon I heard her softly humming. The hum turned into a whistle. This happened every Sunday. I knew the words. “Just a closer walk with Thee, Precious Saviour, this my plea…” As the tune proceeded into the second verse, heads turned, making me fidget in embarrassment.

Should I take her out like a little child? I tried to hush her, but her protests were louder than the whistling. Maybe we shouldn’t bring her to church. She took my hand and patted it. No, my mind argued with itself. She likes being here. She likes the hymns and Bible reading. I can’t deprive her of worshiping her Lord. Who knows when she won’t be able to come anymore?

After the last hymn and prayer, she clung to my arm as we shuffled to the front door, muttering, “Hurting…hurting.”

The pastor shook Grammy’s hand. “I’m so glad you were with us today, Amy.”

“I’m glad too, but you talked too much!”

As we escorted Grammy back to her room in the senior boarding home, a nurse met us in the hallway. “Did you have a good time at church, Amy?” To me she added, “We always know which songs you sing at church because she sings them all week long.”

Lord, will my life be a witness for you, long after I’m able to read or take care of myself? Have I hidden your Word in my heart, where it will never be lost? Lord, let me worship you with my whole heart, not caring what others say or think. I want to be faithful, Lord, just like Grammy.

* Isaiah 53 (KJV)
“He Lives” by Alfred H. Ackley
“Just a Closer Walk with Thee” traditional folk song

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This article has been read 1115 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Holly Westefeld03/13/08
This tender story brought both chuckles and tears.

I realize this was from the daughter-in-law's POV, but would have liked to have seen something of the son besides a passing mention. I also realize that the word count may have hampered you.
Sally Hanan03/13/08
I loved this :) especially this line: God left one part intact, the part that could still praise His Name
Helen Murray03/15/08
Love your sentiments concerning this beautiful lady. Love the understatement of a magnificent heart. Love the undramatic sense of reality.
Joanne Sher 03/15/08
I LOVE grammy. This is so sweet and tender. You did an amazing job of characterization with her especially. Knowing this is true is special. What an amazing legacy.
jodie banner03/16/08
What a wonderful story. Thank you for sharing it.
Laury Hubrich 03/16/08
Oh! What a story. It makes me wonder how I will be when I get to this point in life. Thank you so much for sharing this!
Jan Ackerson 03/16/08
Oh, beautiful! I found myself thinking, where is the topic, until I got to the last paragraph and it hit me with a gulp. Very, very good.
Shelley Ledfors 03/16/08
This is so beautiful! I was there with you for every word and appreciated it so much. Those elders are so precious! Especially those whose love for the Lord shines through even when their other faculties are failing. I was privileged to care for my lovely little Mother-in-law here in our home her last ten months, and also recently lost my own Mom, so could really relate to this beautiful piece. Thanks so much for writing it!
Verna Cole Mitchell 03/16/08
I loved this beautiful story. You described your mother-in-law with her not perfect appearance and actions, but with such love. I thought the "God-part intact" was wonderful.
Dee Yoder 03/16/08
Very touching. Your point is made beautifully and really makes me think about how much I allow my Savior to reside in my heart and mind. Hopefully, enough to make a difference in someone else's life, even when I can't fully be aware of what I do and say.
william price03/16/08
Love Grammy stories. Very good job, writing spot on, and the ending tied it all up nice. Great job. God bless.
Lynda Lee Schab 03/17/08
Grammy is one special lady. I'm glad you noted that this story is true. What a beautiful tribute. Well done!
Joshua Janoski03/17/08
I sure hope that I worship God in my old age just as Grammy did.

This story greatly blessed me. I really appreciate you sharing it.
Debbie Wistrom03/17/08
Grammies sometimes tend to get a bit louder as life takes its toll. I particularly like the collar straightening part. Thanks for a heart-felt story.
Peter Stone03/17/08
I loved the way the final paragraph put the whole piece into focus. How important it is to get our lives right before God now, and then we will be prepared for the later years.
Patrick Whalen03/18/08
Having volunteered in nursing homes I remember the sight of such "Grammys." There were plenty of grumps but the Grammys who loved the Lord even when they didn't know their children's names were such a blessing to me. Thank you for the reminder!
Karin Fiscaletti03/18/08
You touched my heart with this one. I hope that I can do as well with my writing soon.
Sara Harricharan 03/20/08
This was good! (and a true story to boot too. I liked your title and especially the opening. For some reason, thinking of holding the hymn book upside down made me smile and then think of how deeply engrained things like prayers, hymns and the Bible are no matter what age. Isn't that amazing? Great job here! ^_^
Edy T Johnson 03/20/08
You were so kind to read and leave a comment on my "Good News Alphabet," that I had to look you up and get acquainted. This story is a perfect introduction. What a kindred spirit you are!

One thing they taught us in nurses training which I relate to the grandchildren is how important it is to memorize the Word when young, since "the first things you learn are the last that you lose." God's peace be with you!
Tasha Reed12/11/08
Karlene Jacobsen04/24/09
This brought me to tears. I've not closely experienced the effects of alzheimer's on a family, but have watched a friend, as an outsider, deal with her mom's receding memories.

This is absolutely beautiful and packs a powerful punch at the end.