Last night, the world lost one of its best people. My grandma, Christina Richards, was...well...it's hard to find words. She lived by the words of two books, The Bible and The Power of Positive Thinking. I think that's the magic combination that allowed her to live, against all odds, until she was almost 97.
As I looked through the pictures of I have of her, I was disappointed to find they're all from the last few years (since I've had a digital camera), and do not show the woman I remember. Grandma didn't always sit in a wheelchair, oxygen tank and old-lady sweater ever present. Grandma didn't always look like she was about to blow away.
Grandma with Hannah and Lydia
Looking back, the Grandma I think about is the one who used make the best after school snacks: strawberries dipped in powdered sugar, marshmallows melted in the toaster oven, and ice cream bon bons.
Grandma, Dad, and me at Grandma's 80th birthday in 1996
I think of the 82 year old who willing took me into her house when I was a teenager, making pancakes for supper, driving me to football games, and patiently sitting by while I spent hours on the phone trying to negotiate school dances. (Can you believe she never said a word? That must have taken some restraint.)
Richards family reunion in the early 90s
I think of the woman who, every time we went out to eat in our small hometown, had someone come over to our table and remind her that she was their seventh grade teacher. Or that they used to work for her at the family-owned Dairy Queen. Grandma knew everyone in town. She knew my friends' grandparents, and called my teachers by their maiden names.
Grandma and her BFF, Jean at Grandma's 90th birthday
I think of her telling me I could be excused from washing the dinner dishes if I would practice the piano while she washed up. (Worked every time, by the way.)
When I was small, and we'd go to Grandma's house for Sunday supper, she would always make a pan of Pillsbury rolls. I'd eat as many as my mom would let me get away with - three or more. Grandma would pat her tummy and say, "Look at all these rolls." I'd think if I ate enough rolls, I'd have a wonderful soft tummy just like she did. (That worked too.)
More Richards, at Jonathan's and my wedding
I think about when Jonathan were in need, she opened her home to me again, this time with husband and 6 month old Hannah in tow.
Grandma and Hannah, the first time they met
And by now, she was in her 90's. But what a wonderful person to share the first months of our baby's life with...Grandma was there the first time Hannah rolled over,
Some of Hannah's first steps
for the first tentative steps across the living room, and for those precious first words. Hannah thought Grandma's walker was there for her amusement, and knew that Grandma would give her sips from her own cup, always filled with ice water.
My grandma taught me the power of daily prayer and Bible study. Quietly and unassumingly, she showed me the important roll faith plays in one's life.
Jonathan's and my graduation from seminary
She showed me the importance of being surrounded by church community; that you can't do it alone.
Grandma's pastor and the two of us at my ordination as a minister
More than anyone else, Grandma planted in me the seeds of faith that have flowered into a vocation of ministry. What a gift to give, and I thank her for it.
You fought the good fight, Grandma. You finished your race. You kept the faith. And now you're home.