It has been almost a year since my Grandma Vi went home to be with the Lord.
We miss her dearly, it is still hard to believe she’s gone.
Today is her birthday; she would have been 76.
Grandma Vi told each of us, “Always remember how much I love you.” This last request was a most easy task. It is impossible to look at who Grandma was and what she did without knowing that she loved us. Although my Grandmother has always appeared petite and delicate, her love is strong.
Her love was like a large Oak branch, anchored in the deep root of God’s love. Her willingness to draw from the Lord produced the very same fruit she used to spoil her kids and grandchildren: fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and gentleness. Her sweet and tender touch quenched our worries and brought comfort- a comfort the persisted through both sunny and stormy seasons.
Grandma’s consistency of involvement in our lives was a breath of fresh air; like taking refuge beneath a shady branch on a scorching hot day.
In fact, Grandma Vi’s consistency was so concrete in how she cared for others; I had assumed it came naturally for her. I envied that she was so passionate about cleaning, grooming, and cooking- until one day when she told me a secret: she does not enjoy cooking! I was shocked! I not only learned that day that she loved her family a whole lot more than I thought, for cooking such great meals, but also that a regular non chore lover could still show extraordinary care by doing tasks out of love and not out of enthusiasm.
I had never heard her complain about doing mundane chores.
Despite her dislike for cooking, she still took the time to cook a tuna melt sandwich and make a smoothie for my cousin Nathan when he would visit my grandparents after school. He would skip eating school lunches and then burst through the door in their quiet town home with a “Grandma! I’m home!” As kids, the only way we could attempt to spoil Grandma back for all her good food and attentiveness was by giving her our black jellybeans. Yes, she loved black licorice. You wouldn’t know it of course because she brushed her teeth so often. She brushed her teeth almost as often as she told us to wash our hands. We especially needed to wash our hands if we were to touch her piano. My cousin Joel had the cleanest hands of us all, hands down! He was her piano player.
Grandma also played piano. Her delicate fingers danced in joyful chord patterns across the keys. Grandma Vi’s hands were beautiful, long and slender, carefully cared for in a similar way to how she cared for her family, and her hobbies. Grandma handcrafted beautiful Valentines Day’s cards and embellished Christmas tree decorations for the holidays. She also arranged bouquets of flowers. That was my favorite activity to observe of hers as a child.
I remember watching Grandma shape arrangements with her friend Marilyn Redin. That spring at my Elementary school, I remembered her conscientious care in arranging the flowers as I carefully collected all my dandelions and formed them into perfect domes. I instructed my friends to do the same: I did not convince them until I told them that my Grandma Vi was a professional flower arranger and that she taught me her skills.
I felt so proud of my Grandma and the things she could do. She never had to brag because her grandchildren did it for her. Grandma has had accomplishments worth bragging about every single year of her life.
She is also full of surprises. It was fairly recently when the Swearingens and Kobs convinced Grandma to try out the bowling on Nintendo Wii, a new video game system. With nearly every turn a strike, she easily defeated my cousin Joel. After seeing his humiliation, she apologized profusely
… while trying to smuggle the smile off her face.
Yes, my Grandma’s love is deep, deep and strong. Strong enough to stay the same through hardships and challenges. Her love was strong enough to empathize with the deepest of sorrow where no person would choose to linger, strong enough to empathize with the smallest worries that would illogically cloud our young perceptions. I will always remember the bond I felt for my Grandma when I learned that the poem I passionately scribbled about my deceased parakeet caused her to sob with tears because she could sense how sad I felt for my loss.
So strong was her love.
The cold creeps in, and the leaves fall away from the branch; leaving it bare. All around us the tree and the landscape freeze over. The world stops spinning and time stands still. But even still, the branch stays rooted in the tree. Sweet Grandma Vi is still rooted in Christ’s love. As with any season, spring will come again. The old has gone and all shall be made new.
But until then, know that love remains.
Dear Gramma, always always remember how much we love you.