After my grandfather passed away, I started writing about him. I started to recall some of my finest memories of him — his smile and laugh, his working in the garden, his dinner table stories. It was my way of trying to suffocate the pain I was feeling. I would try to extinguish the midnight tears with the memory of him sitting at the head of the table doing math on a napkin at dinner.
My grandma has enjoyed me writing about him with one stipulation. She wanted me to write my memories and feelings about her before she was gone from this temporal world. I’m not sure that she wants the confirmation that she did a good job in raising me, because I tell her that quite often. But it’s certainly nice to hear people say nice things about you, isn’t it?
But for some reason I’ve had a really difficult time putting her into words. She means more to me than most anyone, yet I’ve had a strange inability to express exactly how she has impacted me. And that’s not a bad thing, in any light. Sometimes when people have such a profound impact on you it’s hard to pinpoint where to begin. I could tell you she is the most strong-willed woman I’ve ever met, and that would be true, and good. Or I could tell you that she is brutally honest and yet filled with an ocean of grace. And maybe I could tell you she is a rock of faith and more eager than anyone to be reunited with her Lord in Heaven.
I can also tell you I’m not ready for her to go.
She picked me up twice a week to get allergy shots when I was a boy. There was always a Hershey Kiss awaiting me in the seat, and that was far from the best part of our trip. There was Tic-Tac-Toe in the waiting room, when she always let me win a few. And a trip to the drug store next door where she let me get a bottled Coke and PayDay bar.
She spoiled me rotten with her love.
Then after the car ride home, we would swing in the backyard, and she would make me a plate of eggs. As far as I’m concerned, no one has made a better egg on this earth. She has the grandmother’s sixth sense to know when I want some — at this point, I don’t even have to ask.
And I’ll never forget your face the first time I recited the 23rd Psalm to you. It was like you won the lottery.
Well, those are memories, and there are plenty of them, and certainly I could go on for quite awhile about what I remember.
But instead, grandma, I want to tell you how I will remember you. Because, today, you remember our times together, just like I do. So instead, maybe it’s best to tell you what has stuck with me the most over almost 21 years.
I treasure your love for the Braves. Even though you don’t like my favorite player, Chipper Jones, because he cheated on his wife and you don’t stand for that.
I learned from your love to read. I think you passed that straight to me. To me, you will always be the woman curled up in your recliner — warm pack on your shoulders — reading a novel.
I am inspired by your love to garden. I will always remember our sleeves rolled up canning fresh green beans.
I smile at the very whisper of your laugh. Infectious, growing, deep, and warm like a blanket.
I delight in the Lord because of your teachings. Not a day has gone by when we are together that you haven’t shown me how deep the Father’s love is for us.
I appreciate your beginnings. The ninth of ten children, the little girl, the humble start.
I cry at the thought of your pain. When granddaddy died, you were rock-solid, but aching underneath as your partner departed.
I feel empowered by your strength. How you never faltered. How you gripped my shoulders as we hugged. How you ended each meeting with an “I Love You” growing in pitch, with each word.
I find great joy in making you proud. I have gotten the chance to do some incredible things in incredible places over the past couple of years, and not once — I promise — when I walk out of a stadium or saw my name in some newspaper did I not think of you and granddaddy.
I am who I am today because of the way you have cared for me.
I will love you for the rest of my days. I will tell my children and their children and their children, if I’m lucky, how much my grandma loved them and how one day, we will all sit at the Lord’s Table together, hand-in-hand.
And I bet you there will be scrambled eggs waiting.
But until then, grandma, we have more memories to make.