By Lisa Cherry
We stood around her bedside as participants in a holy scene. As I watched my grandmother’s sleeping figure breathing her very last shallow breaths, my mind whirled with fleeting memories. Some of them to the distant past of little girl romps on the prize laden twin bed in her back bedroom. Some of them to the scenes of the past few days when her 95 year old body took a sudden turn into weakness. I could see her just 24 hours prior as she rallied her strength for one more good tease for her assembled great grandkids. I heard her voice in my ear as she attempted to give each one of us one more quality moment. “I will give anyone a dollar out of my purse if you can solve my puzzle game,” she called into the sitting room from her bed. “Kalyn, what color did you say the bridesmaids’ dresses would be? I’m not sure I am going to be able to get there next week…… I love you too, honey.”
And now she was gone. Her 95 years of pilgrimage to her King were completed. She finished them in her sleep.
Her bedroom was filled with Gaither Homecoming videos, family photographs and trinkets. But as I stood my post on the upper corner of her bed, my eyes caught sight of something I hadn’t noticed all day. There under the mound of medical supplies and blankets sat her trusty companion, her typewriter, with its old manual keys. Suddenly I saw a glimmer of our lives intertwined. And now I sit here in my own house with tears flowing attempting to capture something on my own keyboard about the depth of her life…..
We called her Ging-gi, a nickname she had picked out for herself when I was a baby. Ging-gi was never famous. Her words never went to print or even as far as an internet blog. But nevertheless she left her mark of love on countless lives. From her, I learned the true meaning of the word “grit.” She was tenacious. Vigorous. Passionate. And some would say stubborn. She never wanted to assume the limelight. In fact, she hated when anyone would even attempt to give her any public recognition or praise. But something deep inside her radiated “life.” She found a way of drawing life from the simplest things. A Beanie Baby collection. A stack of old Audubon Society magazines with the pretty bird pictures on every page. A bowl of Hershey’s miniatures or her famous pound cake.
Life was a little slower when you visited Ging-gi’s house. It seemed the world was a little less complicated and maybe just a little less scary. Perhaps it was because her mindsets and ideas flowed from a simpler time when Christian parenting was more the rule than the exception. Or maybe it was just because she represented to me the safe grandma world where I could do no wrong.
As I stood by her bed, I was uncharacteristically quiet. Beautiful words of prayer and praise and comfort flowed from family members all around. I was halfway miserable because my words seemed stopped up instead of flowing. Until one phrase birthed forth from my lips. I knew it had come forth from my spirit connecting to my Father’s heart. “Faithful. She was a faithful woman serving a faithful God.” And then my world was right again. Maybe those words don’t read with any significant power. But when I heard them in my heart I could almost sense my Daddy God reaching out His hand to His daughter Wanda and saying, “Well done my good and faithful servant. You may enter into your rest.”
And at that moment I sensed a new mantle had come upon my life. A passing of the baton. A changing of seasons. An unfolding of legacy.
My race and my grandmother’s look so different and yet so similar. She was a Servant; I am a Servant. She was a daughter; I am a daughter. She was a grandma and now (oh no!) I am the grandma! Those parts I knew. But other parts I had never understood before. I guess my mind reasoned that she just used her typewriter because her eyes had left her blind and her handwriting had become so shaky. I had failed to recognize her calling and gifting. My grandmother was a writer. A poet. A scribe for her King. Pouring His love into those notecards and diaries and stories. And even into her book which she “published” by loading a stack of her typewritten pages into a little satchel suitcase. Grandma, it is your heritage, your legacy that I am living now!! A piece of you in me!
The words of Psalm 71:18 ring in my heart. “Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come.” Ging-gi, you did.
My aunt Sharon called me this morning. “Lisa, did you know the last thing Ging-gi did before she fell sick on Friday? I was sitting with her reading aloud your new book, Kalyn’s Secret. We had just read page 120 which says: ‘Love (agape) can best be understood as a spiritual force—a force of the kingdom of light that drives back the forces of darkness and gives the ultimate sacrifice.’ Can you see it, Lisa? That is where she fell asleep. That is where she rested her life. She lived that life of Love.”
It was true! Gingi-gi’s faith in her Faithful God was inside of me. When I penned those words, they overflowed from her pilgrimage influence on my life. That is the legacy I want for my daughters and sons.
It is my race now without grandma’s presence. And when I get to the end of my days with my family gathered around, I hope those same words can rise up in my grandchildren’s hearts. Faithful. She was a faithful woman serving a Faithful God. Thank you, Ging-gi. Your words and your life will never be forgotten. Frontline Moms, we will declare His power to the next generation.