Play the hand you are dealt

Today’s reading:  Titus 3

Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people (Titus 3:1-2).

On December 11 my dear Grandma, Evelyn York, peacefully left this earth.  After 97 years of faithfully following Jesus, she finally got to meet him face to face.  She was ready.

Gram emulated the characteristics of a Christfollower described in Titus 3:1-3.  But just because she was submissive to authorities, helpful and considerate to other people, never quarreling and always courteous, she was as tenacious (or perhaps stubborn) as they come.  She was never afraid to stand up for herself or advocate for those she loved.  She tackled problems head on and never shied away from hard conversations.  One of the most valuable life lessons I learned from Gram was to play the hand you are dealt.  Your circumstances might not be what you would have chosen, but don’t wallow in self-pity.  Find a way forward.

  • She fiercely loved my Grandpa.  As a preacher’s wife, Gram faithfully supported him wherever his ministry led their family.  While I’m sure they did, I don’t ever remember them quarreling or disagreeing about anything.  (Although Gram told me she she occasionally had to remind him that she was his wife, not one of his parishioners.)
  • She loved and supported her family, even though she was quick to remind us who was in charge.  (When my sister and I were younger, Gram enjoyed playing “King of the Raft” with us.  She always won, but only because we were afraid to push her in the water because it would wreck her hair…note that Gram went to town once a week to get her hair “set”.  Do anything to mess it up and you would suffer her wrath…we all knew better!)
  • She was a hard worker.  In their early 50’s, my Grandparents moved to St. Joseph, Illinois and Gram went to work for Carle Hospital in the medical records area.  Despite her age and initial unfamiliarity, she led the way in supporting technological advancements.  (Although every summer we called from the lake and talked Grandma and Grandpa into leaving work a few days early so they could spend a little extra time with us on vacation.)
  • She served others.  After my Grandpa died, Gram served other widows in the Leesburg Christian Church and in her neighborhood for 25 years.  (Including her crazy neighbor Margaret who stopped over for “happy hour” most afternoons. As they enjoyed a cup of coffee, Gram listened to her stories and gently encouraged Margaret to go home and take a shower when she smelled like a billy goat…which was more often that not.)
  • She did what she knew was best, even though it sometimes was not what she wanted.  In 2016, after another heart attack and some time at a rehab facility, Gram agreed it was time to move closer to family.  This meant leaving her beloved home in FL and moving to Illinois with my parents. (I was down visiting her just a few months before she moved.  While she knew this was the beginning of the end, she also acknowledged it was just the next phase of life and something she knew she had to do.)
  • She did not fear the unknown, rather she put her trust and her hope in Jesus.  When the hospice nurse came to visit for the first time on November 29, Gram didn’t really know what to expect.  After the nurse was gone, Aunt Muriel asked her if she was scared.  Gram responded with a firm, “no, this is just something I need to walk through.”  (Gram’s final days weren’t as smooth as we’d hoped, but God made a way.  My Mom, who had been her primary care giver for the last 5.5 years, was in bed with COVID.  My Aunt Muriel, who had come to help my Mom take care of Gram while my Dad wrapped up a business trip, got COVID from my Mom and then gave it to my Dad when he got home.  While the rest of us couldn’t go inside for a week, we were able to care for them by leaving meals and whatever else they needed on the porch.  On December 11, when my Dad was no longer contagious, I went to see Grandma, kiss her face and tell her how much I loved her.  Two hours later, with my Dad and Aunt Muriel by her side, she went to Heaven.)

These last 5.5 years have been hard as Gram required increasing levels of care.  Thank you to my Mom and Dad, especially my Mom, for doing whatever it took to meet her needs until the end.  Thanks to my parent’s small group for befriending my Gram and helping support my parents.  Thanks to Dr. Kindred for overseeing Gram’s healthcare and doing a masterful job at making the last 5.5 years of her life as vibrant as they could be.

I love you Gram.  I’ve got a big hole in my heart right now with you gone.  I’ll see you soon.  Take care of things upstairs until I get there!