Happy Mother’s Day! I hope the day was extra special for all our fabulous mothers and grandmothers! A mother’s love is a priceless gift, and a grandmother’s love brings a treasure trove of blessings. In honor of the special women in our lives, I share this story about my precious relationship with my Granny.
Love…always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
1 Corinthians 13:7-8a – NIV
My mother’s voice was on the other end of the line, soft and sad. “Anita, Granny’s passed.”
I knew the time was coming, but my heart sank in despair. My beloved Granny was gone.
Mama had been at her bedside, holding her hand until the very end. She had gone peacefully, leaving the bondage of her hospital bed to pass safely into her Heavenly Father’s arms.
I was sad, but I was certain. She was where she was supposed to be.
Granny had always been there for me. From my earliest memory, her love for me was evident; her warm eyes, bright smile and open arms willing and waiting to welcome me. She was the kind of grandmother that made you feel safe, cozy, comfortable. I had stayed with her so often that her little five room house in the small Southern mill town of Pelzer, South Carolina felt like home.
She and my Papa had raised four children, two boys and two girls, in that little white clapboard mill house that backed up to the railroad tracks. They worked hard to make ends meet as they staggered their shifts at the textile mill just down the street. There was never much money, but they made the best of it, filling the house with love instead of coins or cash.
Their family was a bit of a novelty, having the only set of identical twins in town, my mother and her sister Tina. Since Granny dressed the girls alike, most people couldn’t tell them apart, this challenge made even more difficult because the sisters were inseparable. In their teenage years, the girls became high school basketball stars, their ample skills further aided by the fact that opponents could not figure out which one was which and who they were supposed to guard.
Papa was the love of her life, and their years together had been happy ones. They shared a tight bond that did not diminish with the passage of time or the struggles of life. Granny was a woman who was more than comfortable speaking her mind. Papa was the only person capable of silencing her opinions by simply speaking her name. She admired him all her life, long past the days his handsome 6’4” 250 pound frame could fill up a doorway.
Granny was a bad diabetic, learning of her diagnosis by ending up in a diabetic coma. A young doctor fresh out of school recognized her life threatening condition and responded quickly and correctly. Interestingly, he was just covering for the town doctor’s vacation when he was called to treat her, no doubt saving her life. This occurred in her mid-50’s and she never really bounced back completely.
Leaving the textile mill work after that life threatening episode, Papa took care of her, and she adopted “the sick role” for the rest of her surprisingly long life. We lost Papa to heart disease in his early 60’s, and Granny lived the rest of her years as somewhat of a shut in.
Granny was an avid watcher of soap operas. A random stop by her home in mid-afternoon would find her in her beloved recliner glued to her “stories.” She also enjoyed a good nap, though she would never admit to it. If we happened to catch her in the bed in the middle of the day, she would always claim, “Oh, I was just putting the drops in my eyes!”
Granny’s other grandchildren lived close by, seeing her often, but my visits were fewer and farther in between. Growing up as an Army brat, we often lived far away, but that did not deter the bond between Granny and me.
Whenever we returned from some distant Army post, I camped out at her house. She and I would sleep together in the big bed in her front bedroom, me falling asleep to stories of her childhood. She would regale me with tales of life on the family farm and her years living with her siblings after being orphaned as a little girl. Tough times had forced her into the mill at a young age, spending most of her working life in the spinning room.
She had a merry laugh, and a savvy sense of humor that would pop out when least expected. On the day of Papa’s funeral, my father snapped a picture of her six grandchildren all standing together in a line. When Dad showed Granny the picture, he remarked, “Granny, now there’s a good looking bunch of kids.”
Granny looked up, a little smile playing on her lips. “Well, there ain’t never been no ugly Revis babies!”
She knew how to chat with children, always finding a way to entertain me. Seated comfortably in her recliner, Granny played Barbie’s with me. With my dolls spread on the carpet below her feet, she would ask, “What’s Barbie going to do today? Why don’t you put that dress on her.” Somehow, she always managed to play Barbie’s beautifully without ever leaving her recliner.
When my father was in Vietnam, Granny traveled to our house every night to stay with Mama and me. My mother was nervous staying out in the country alone, so Granny became my roommate for the year. We became roommates again during my junior year of high school. When my father’s work necessitated a moved to Richmond, Virginia, I stayed with Granny for three months to finish out the school year. How many nights did she send me up to the local fast food joint to pick us up a plate of fried chicken and biscuits? We would then chat animatedly at the kitchen table as we munched on her favorite meal. She liked having me around, and our tight bond grew even more snug in that season of life.
Outliving all my other grandparents, Granny was the only one to see me become a mother. I remeber her bright smile when I laid Jonathan in her arms for the first time. Mom and I had my father take a picture of the four generations gathered in and around her old faux-leather recliner. Her eyes were full of sunshine and tears as she gazed into her great grandson’s precious face.
It broke Granny’s heart when she learned about my eye disease. She handled it all in the stoic way she dealt with most of life’s troubles, but she grieved it nonetheless.
Granny’s last few years had been spent in a nursing home after not fully recovering from a fractured hip. On a bitter January day, the Baptist preacher who had visited her in the facility delivered a beautiful eulogy with an uplifting message. His remarks hit home when he said, “Mrs. Revis has traded the nursing home for a mansion. She is home. She is free. No more insulin shots. No more needles. No more diabetes. No more pain. No more tears. She is home now. She is free.”
Granny was free, and in her eternal home, but a part of her is still with me, there in my memory. I remeber all our times together, her stories and our giggles, our slumber parties and the fried chicken meals we shared. I glimpse my smile in the mirror, and realize it looks a lot like hers. I am like her in so many ways. She may be gone from this earth, but she will never depart from my heart.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:13 – NIV
O Precious Lord, thank You for the marvelous gift of maternal love bestowed on us by our dear mothers and grandmothers, our precious aunts and our special friends. Thank You for bringing these dear women into our lives. Shower them with blessings, Lord, for they have been such blessings to us.