Laying beside my beloved grandmother as she took her last breath was one of the most difficult things I have ever done. It was also one of the greatest privileges of my life. In most respects, my grandmother was more like a mother to me. I lived with her for most of my childhood. Much of who I am is because of the love and guidance that she poured into me.
In the week leading up to her passing, I created a poster of photographs from throughout her life to hang on the wall of her hospital room. After months of bouncing from one medical facility to another, I thought it was important for the medical professionals caring for her to see that she was more than a failing 92-year-old body trapped in a hospital bed.
There is a picture of her as a baby and another of her as a 10-year-old little girl wearing a feed sack dress made by her mother. One nurse commented that she reminded her of Kit Kittredge, the American Girl doll from the Great Depression. Black and white photos of her on the boardwalk in Atlantic City, N.J., sitting on the back of an alligator in Florida, and posing in her bathing suit on a sandy beach give glimpses into who she was and the life she lived, but they only tell part of her story.
My grandmother’s faith was the epitome of simple, child-like faith. She didn’t concern herself with deep theological debates or arguments. The arbitrary lines of denomination meant nothing to her. She merely loved Jesus because of who He is and all that He had done for her. Her love for Him was so great that it overflowed into a life dedicated to loving and serving others.
When I think of my grandmother’s legacy, I am reminded of Paul’s words to his young protégé, Timothy: “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well” (2 Timothy 1:5). It is my grandmother’s faith, passed down through my mother to me, that will continue to live on in each of my daughters.
I want to live each day worthy of that legacy, but if I am honest, I admit to feeling rather like Solomon when he wrote the book of Ecclesiastes, “Vanity of vanities! All is vanity. What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun? A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever.” (Ecclesiastes 1:2).
Someday, Lord willing, I will be that little old lady laying in that bed. When I am gone, my children and grandchildren will be trying to figure out what to do with all of the stuff I have accumulated throughout my life. When viewed in that light, all of our human activity seems rather pointless. It can be tempting to say the heck with it all and just lay around and watch Netflix all day.
But, the idea of the fleeting nature of life can also have the opposite effect. Solomon, after much lament and consternation, finally concludes that “a man hath no better thing under the sun than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry” (Ecclesiastes 8:15).
Because I know I am not guaranteed tomorrow, I can choose to make the most of today and indulge in the God-given desires of my heart. I will dance in the kitchen with my husband, sing show tunes with my daughters and cuddle up with my dog. I will wear my favorite dress, go for coffee with a close friend, and stroll through our beautiful historic downtown.
I will use my talents, time and possessions to bless those around me because there can be no greater satisfaction than knowing you made a difference in the life of another person. I will spend time reading the Bible and praying not out of duty or obligation, but because they are the wellspring that feeds everything else.
I am so blessed to have had such an incredible woman as my grandmother in my life for so long. Her presence will be greatly missed, but I will be forever grateful for all that she did and all that she was. Well done, His good and faithful servant. Until we meet again . . .
In memory of my grandmother, Dolores Miller, 10/3/1927-1/24/2020.