Friday, January 20, 2012

Tribute to My Grandmother - a Proverbs 31 Woman

Three years ago, my precious grandmother left this earth that had bound her in disease and taken away her ability to do some of the things she loved, and entered the gates of Heaven, where there is no disease or disability...only perfection! Her absence on this earth is still being felt very deeply by those who love her and who were loved by her!

It was in February 1927 that Mary Kathryn Wells made her entrance into the world. She was the middle of three surviving children in her family. On September 27, 1945, she married Rev. C. Ray Till (my grandfather) and began a family of her own. Her oldest child is my mother. I had the joy and privilege of being her first (and for several years, only) grandchild. Everyone who had the privilege of knowing her could easily see the traits of a Proverbs 31 Woman being displayed in her life.

A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.
Proverbs 31:10

My grandfather (who went to Heaven years before her) was a Baptist pastor at the same church for 43 years and she was an excellent help-mate to him. She was always by his side and helped in so many areas of the church. She was his greatest advocate...even to the very end. You see, my grandfather developed Alzheimer's, which took away the sharp mind that he had grown to depend on. I later learned that as his memory began to fade, she became his memory for him. When they were out in public, if a member of the church came up, she would make sure to say the name for him so that he wouldn't be embarrassed. If they were far enough away, she would whisper it to him so that he could be the one to respond first. If there wasn't time for that, she would make sure to call them by name when she greeted them.

Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.
Proverbs 31:11-12

When I was a little girl, she would make clothes for me...oh how I wish I still had some of those items that she so lovingly made for me! But, not only did she make things for me, she also taught me how to make some things myself! She taught me the basics of sewing (how to cut a pattern, thread a needle, etc.), how to crochet, and how to cross stitch. I can not walk through a fabric store or start a crochet or cross stitch project without thinking of her. The amount of time she poured into me will be with me for the rest of my life. It's worth more to me than any earthly treasure that the world considers valuable. When she passed away, the most treasured item of hers that I received was a cross stitch project she had done, which hung in her home until her death. It now hangs in mine.

She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands.
Proverbs 31:13

One of the many things I enjoyed doing with my grandmother was to go didn't matter what kind of shopping it was. She could even make grocery shopping fun...more like an adventure than a chore! She would see something new in the store and ask me if we should give it a try. Sometimes we'd imagine what it would be like before we even got it home. To this day, I don't mind going grocery shopping because it reminds me of when I used to shop for groceries with her!

She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar.
Proverbs 31:14

But grocery shopping wasn't her only food skill...she could make the best meals! If you have ever been lucky enough to sit at her dining room table, you know exactly what I mean! Every meal was a masterpiece...not always so much in how it looked, but in how it made you feel. To sit at her dining room table was to fill up not only on nutrition, but also on love! She always poured a lot of love into whatever she made. I can remember times during my childhood and teenage years when I would spend the night at her house...sometimes even on a school night. She would not hear of me leaving the house without breakfast (as was my norm then)...and cold cereal or grabbing a PopTart on the way out the door just would not cut it, either. She made a full-blown sit-down breakfast! She wanted to make sure I was ready for whatever I was to face that day. My grandmother was a firm believer that a full belly could fix most problems and give you the strength to face the rest! If a small child was ever cranky in her house, she was sure it was because they were either hungry or tired...never because they were ill mannered! ;)

She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family and portions for her female servants.
Proverbs 31: 15

There are so many other examples I could give of why she's a Proverbs 31 woman, but I think you get the picture. She was an amazing lady...and I don't think she ever realized just how special she was to each and every one of us. And as much as I tried, there's just no way mere words could explain how amazingly special she was/is!

She had a way of making each of us feel like we were her favorite, though she never really played favorites. It wasn't until her funeral that I realized that some of the things she and I shared...things I thought were just between us...were also shared between her and other members of the family, too. One of these things is that during the prayer time at church, she would slip her pinky finger over mine and lock them together. It was a simple gesture...but one that filled me with love and made me feel so important. I don't know if I ever told her while she was here on earth how much that meant to me...but I would suspect she knows now.

She had a way about her that you could talk to her about anything...and even if your opinions were dead wrong or just something she didn't agree with you...she could tell you in such a way that you still felt valued for your opinion, but she still helped you see things from her wise perspective. I hope that I am able to do that with my son and his unborn sibling. What a valuable life lesson that is!

She taught so many valuable life lessons...just by the way she lived her life. She was as gentle as the day is long, but she would fiercely defend her convictions or any member of her family when the need was there. When I was with her, I was at peace and I felt like I could do anything. She taught me how to dream! She held on to the belief that "someday" her "ship would come in" and the Publisher's Clearing House van would pull up to her front door and present her with a check. She often talked about what she would do when that happened...and yet, she didn't spend her life waiting for it, either. Because she knew that the most valuable thing on this earth cannot be placed in a bank, but in the heart of those she loved most. And boy, did she bank some great memories in our hearts!

One of the neatest things for me was seeing the bond she formed with my son that was every bit as strong as the one she and I shared, even though we live over 650 miles away from where she lived. She took the time to get to know him in the only way that was possible at the time...over the phone. When he was only a little over a year old and babbling things that only he could understand, she would take the time to have long conversations with him over the phone...and she made it sound like they were really communicating (I guess in a way, they were)! I would put the cordless phone on speaker and hand him the handset. He would walk around the room as he "talked" to her. I'd hear him say, "Blah, da, blah, blah, ya, da." Then Nana would respond with, "Is that right? Can you tell me more?" And he would! This would go on for quite some time...sometimes for an hour or more. And I just loved hearing him babble on to her and hear her respond to him. It was the sweetest thing. My only regret was that I never got one of these conversations on tape...oh how I wish I had that now! :) But, these conversations formed a bond over the miles that you wouldn't have thought possible! When we made one of our trips up at Christmas when Christopher was little, even though he was at a stage where he didn't really go to anyone he didn't know very well, he went right up to her and loved on her! Even to this day, he remembers her and misses her. She only got to be in his life for a very short period of time...but she made a huge impact in it...just as she has done with everyone who ever had the privilege of knowing her! :)

Yes, she's missed greatly here on earth...but the beauty of being a Christian is that we know that when our time here on earth is done, we will get to spend ALL OF ETERNITY in Heaven with her and others who have gone on before us! Oh what a day that will be! :)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I miss her too! Wish I could have known her longer and also the chance to meet C Ray Till.