The memories from my elementary school years and before are more of the place than of her. The green hills and the dark hollers all around. Grandma kept a garden of flowers, which, to this child, seemed to stretch beyond the borders of West Virginia; bright yellows, reds, blues, God’s colors, the vividness of flowers.
Quiet time was spent on the porch swing. Sleep time was spent in the room above the root cellar. Dinner time was spent at the table, every evening meal at Grandma’s seemed like Thanksgiving as empty ears of corn piled up in front of my plate. The nights were pitch dark, the days, hot and sunny.
About all I remember of Grandma from those early years is her gray hair, pudgy cheeks, the fact that she seemed to always wear an apron, she went to church a lot and that I saw her only on our two-week vacation in the summer.
Over time, my elementary school years passed into high school, salvation, marriage, college, a stint in the military, becoming a Pastor, moving miles away, not just in distance but also in spirit from my Grandmother. Before I knew it my oldest son was in college and the last time I had seen Grandma was before two of my four children were even born. I did not think of her often and I saw her even less.
I was forty, she was ninety-two, the summer I sat at her feet. My family and I were taking our first “real” vacation and doing some traveling to the east coast. Grandma’s house was right on the way. She seemed so happy, like an old hound dog that had caught an opossum, when I called and asked if we could stay for a few days.
Not to long after we arrived there were barren ears of corn stacked in front of my plate. Several hours later when my teenagers were finished giving Great-Grandma all the news from their lives and the only light came from the same ancient floor lamp that was there three decades before, the kids went to bed, leaving my wife, Grandmother and myself in the room alone.
“Tim, please read this to me.” Grandma was handing me her Bible.
“What would you like me to read?”
“Anything. My eyes just can’t see it very well anymore. I go to church, listen to the sermons but that is just not enough. I miss reading it so.” Grandma declared. She closed her eyes and rocked in her chair, her only movement coming from her ankles.
I began with First Peter, my favorite book, when I was done Grandma said, “Read some more.”
Second Peter, “Read more.”
The gospel of John, “More, please.”
First Thessalonians, “Just a little more, the words are so wonderful.”
Second Thessalonians, “Tim, read Psalm 119 and we’ll call it a night.”
Psalm 119, “Tim, I’m sorry. Could you please read the twenty-third Psalm, then we’ll go to bed?”
“Don’t be sorry Grandma, I’ll read all night if you wish.”
Psalm 23. The rocking stopped. “Help me up. I should get some sleep.”
That was in July. In late September of that same year I was able to sit at her feet once more and read. Four days after the second reading, Grandma had no further need for a third reading, she looked directly into the face of THE WORD that she cherished and loved so much.
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