Shortly before my Junior Prom, the news came that Grandma was coming for a visit. Grandma, who always carried with her the smell of mothballs and a sewing machine the size of a Buick, was going to spend a month of two. “Wonderful!” I smirked. “Why don’t we just take in some homeless people, too!” That remark earned me the privilege of bunking with Grandma.
Upon arrival, Grandma promptly set up shop in my bedroom. She kept her teeth in a jar by the bed, snored like a choking hyena, and sewed three-inch ruffles to the hems of my mini skirts. Just when I thought things couldn’t possibly get worse, I received a phone call from my boyfriend. “I have mono. I can’t go to the prom,” he whispered.
“Well, take something and get over it!” I demanded.
“Sorry, but I can’t leave the house for at least a month,” he rasped.
“You did this on purpose, didn’t you?” I accused as I hurled the phone and ran outside. Grandma had heard everything and followed me to the front porch. She sat down beside me and after a few minutes pointed to a gang of neighborhood boys playing football in a field nearby.
“See that boy?” I looked in the direction of her point.
“Yeah, that’s Chuck,” I answered.
“What about him? He looks nice enough. Maybe he’ll take you to the prom.”
I’d never before considered the fact that Chuck was a male. I gave him a black eye in second grade, he broke my nose in sixth grade, and a few years later he became the kind of boy friend I could talk to about my boyfriend. Now, looking at him for the first time as a member of the opposite sex, he was kind of cute. Grandma’s idea might work!
I jumped from the porch, ran to the field, snagged a throw from Chuck’s hands and pushed him to the ground. “Will you take me to the prom?” I asked.
Chuck, not the least bit surprised by my behavior, answered, “Sure. Now go away and leave me alone.” Thus our romantic date was set.
Now that I had secured an escort, Mom and I set out to find the perfect prom dress. I had my eyes on a blue sequined beauty, but when Mom looked at the price tag she cringed. “We only have twenty five dollars to spend,” she explained. My heart sank.
Mom tried to show me other dresses in our price range, but I became indignant. “Just forget it! I’ll stay home!”
We returned from our shopping trip to find Grandma waiting to see my purchase. I cried as Mom recounted the story.
Grandma thought for a moment then offered, “I can make a prom dress.”
“I’m not wearing a sack dress to the prom!” I screamed.
A few days later, I came home from school to find Chuck sitting in the living room with my family and several neighbors. He glanced at me and said, “I was looking forward to the prom. I wish you’d reconsider.”
“You were just going because I asked you to go!” I snapped.
“Okay, then. I’m forced to ask someone else,” he chided.
Into the room walked Grandma, her face painted like a clown, bright red lipstick, green eye shadow, and enough rouge to fill the Grand Canyon. Her plump, eighty-year-old body was draped with a sack dress made of white satin. A pair of slippers and rolled-down stockings completed the ensemble. She looked like the bride of Frankenstein.
The sight of Grandma dressed for the prom made me laugher harder than I had ever laughed before, but what I saw next bore a hole through my heart. Behind Grandma was my sister, dressed in a white satin gown more beautiful that anything I could imagine. Grandma had taken the twenty-five dollars to buy material, then used by sister as a model to make the evening gown.
The mixture of happiness and remorse left me breathless, but I gasped enough to ask Grandma, “Why’d you do this for me? I’ve been so mean to you. I don’t deserve this!”
Her reply was simple. “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” (Matthew 6:14)
I am now a grandma, and although I have no plans to attend my grandson’s prom, I have every intention of sharing with him the same love of Jesus my grandma shared with me.