When I hear the song “Amazing Grace” it makes me young again. I can still hear the wide vibrato of her voice crooning the alto harmonies in a little white Lutheran church of my memory. I can see the curl of her frizzy white grey hair, and I feel the soft curve of her boney hands as they would squeeze mine. I remember reading the music beside her, in awe of the stained glass depictions of my favorite Bible stories, and I marveled at the lamb laying down with the lion without fear. The ancient organ in the choir loft above would creak and moan out the familiar tune, and with each verse I was more amazed at the woman who stood beside me.
She was precious to me, and I fancied that I was her favorite out of all of my cousins and my brother. She always had apples in her refrigerator and she could deftly carve away the skin, keeping it in one piece for the whole apple, just because it delighted me so. She always wrote in a journal, a calendar that she steadily wrote about things that now would be of no consequence. She recorded the weather, weddings and funerals that she had attended, and her own musings about what she saw that day. She instilled in me an appreciation of the written word, Bible study and the beauty of pen and paper. It is she that inspired me to write, to journal, and to make my own stories.
You know, I can still hear her playing cards with us when I play “31” with my nieces or pitch with my friends. Sometimes when I look in the mirror I catch a glimpse of her in my own smile, and I relish the coloring of my father’s hands, as they reflect her freckles that he’s passed on to me. Often I think about her never meeting my husband or my sons, but it is not something I can dwell on. We know what happens when we die and my grandma is healthy and happy; she’s waiting for me.
She passed away the day after my 15th birthday, my grandma Ella, and I was devastated. My heart refused to sing for a very long time. I was angry at God; angry that I had to sit by and watch her die, that he took her away from me. But, as I close in on the 15th anniversary of her death, and consequently my 30th birthday, I see another point of view and perhaps others have seen it too.
Today is just tomorrow’s yesterday, and so I will not dwell in the past. Her impact on my life was essential in developing my firm foundation in church, in fellowship, and in my heart. In my life I strive to see where God is, where I see Him every day and how I am affected by His presence. I use my memories of her to see Him today. But I gained more by her absence because I can now fully appreciate who she was and how she helped to shape me, and how she taught me to pursue God with my whole heart. It is no accident that I often picture God molding a piece of clay, when I’m down or I’m blue. God’s not finished with me yet.
While she may not be able to be here physically and see my sufferings, my accomplishments, or my family grow, it is because I had her in my life that I can look for God in the little things. It is through her memory that I can apply what I’ve learned and experienced and make my life more effective in my pursuit of a closer relationship with God.
I have my grandmother’s faith.