One Life Well Lived: Reflections on My Grandma

Friday, June 12, 2020

I shared these words for my grandma's funeral. She was such an amazing person that I believe her example can be an inspiration not only to my close family members who will hear this shared today, but to anyone seeking to live their life for the Lamb that was slain. So I share these words with you.

There are so many wonderful things that could be said of my grandma. From the beginning, she was a loving, present, faithful and Christ-like influence in my life.

My very first memory of grandma is of a day she had come over to our house to babysit my siblings and I. I must have been around preschool age; at the time I was known for being strong-willed and a tad fiery. I could get away with being naughty around some babysitters, but not grandma. You see, I think grandma and I had that feisty nature in common, so she knew all the tricks I'd try to pull. 

That particular morning, I had earned myself a timeout, and grandma told me: "Cassidy, you stay put in that chair; every time you get up, you will have one minute added to your timeout." Of course, she couldn't be serious, I reasoned. So I got out of my chair about ten times, and by the time I had finally learned my lesson, I had enjoyed thirty minutes in the beloved timeout chair. This might have been overdoing it for some children, but for me, it was exactly what I needed to see that, yes, I actually did have to obey. Grandma was not afraid of her passionate grandchild, and I knew it. I was quite a difficult one to tame, but grandma never gave up on investing in my life and reminding me why it is important to do what is right.

Knowing exactly what to say about grandma is such a challenge, because there were seventy-seven beautiful years, each one with special memories. I had the privilege of knowing her for twenty of those years, and during that time, I saw grandma in moments of highest joy, and valleys of lowest pain. 

Grandma was never one to sulk; she was very determined, and utilized her loving and strong-willed nature to touch others' lives. Though she might have felt most comfortable in her own little bubble--wrapped up in a blanket, reading a book on the couch--she had a wonderful ability to reach out to others. Grandma had this unique gift about her; she could sense when someone was new or did not feel welcome, and she would make her way over to that person, seek them out, and intentionally get to know them. This was true to the very end. After grandma had passed away in the hospital, the physician assistant came in to pronounce her death, and told me, "Only hours before her stroke [after which she became unresponsive], she was joking with me and making me laugh." 

Even amid her own pain and suffering with chronic pain and other health conditions, she was extremely purposeful. She thanked her nurses. She made sure to talk with the medical staff and get to know them.

Another strength clearly seen in grandma was her extreme resilience and endurance. She would never have described herself in that way, but every time something seemed to push her down, it wasn't long until she had sprung back up, ready to face a new day with abundant hopes and plans. 

Grandma had several heartbreaking things occur in her life; the most notable being when grandpa passed away of a sudden heart attack. I never met grandpa, but whenever I asked her about him, she would always say, "He was the most wonderful husband in the world." She had truly lost the love of her life, and I don't think I'll ever fully grasp how hard that must have been for her. Terms like depression always seemed foreign to grandma, because, somehow, she always stayed afloat through the pain. She had a strong faith that did not hinge on life going well from her perspective. She was devoted to "follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth" (Revelation 14:4).

She was devoted to "follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth" (Revelation 14:4).

And she meant this commitment to Christ! At one time in her life, she prepared for missions in Africa, believing God might have been leading her there. Instead, God lead her to serve in Canada for a time. But her sheer willingness to cross the ocean and enter into the unknown resounded from the surrender that dwelt deep inside her soul. Her life was not her own; she had been bought with a price. And she sought to glorify God throughout all her life.

Grandma was especially purposeful about pouring into those around her. Sometimes, if my siblings or I were really in a lot of trouble, we would be dropped off to grandma's house for several days. This was a place of certain heart-resets. Grandma was not worried about pleasing us every moment, though she was extremely loving; she was willing to have hard conversations with us kids and ask heart wrenching questions that dove to the depths of why we found ourselves in trouble. She had strong insight and always knew how to create a convicting conversation with us on why change was necessary. Don't get yourself in trouble with grandma, but if you do, she'll be certain to love you into a place of life-change.

Grandma was a soul of kindness. Her resolute thoughtfulness could be seen regularly, but especially when a holiday would roll around, only to find that she had been stitching away at a lovely quilt or handmade ornament just for the recipient. She cared about gifting and creating in a way that made a legacy; I see now in many of these beautiful gifts that there was not only the intentionality of a visionary mind, but the touch of kindness that lives on. She loved her family so well, and wanted us to know it. She was always there for us, even allowing me to live with her for several months when my family divided. She was often deep in thought, and had a glorious laugh that I long to hear again.

Her thoughtful example will not be forgotten. Her devotion to Christ will continue to inspire me. Her example of loving others as Jesus has will always remind me why I should break out of my own little world and invest into the lives of others.

I believe this poem by C.T. Studd reflects well on the life she lived:

Two little lines I heard one day,
Traveling along life's busy way;
Bringing conviction to my heart,
And from my mind would not depart;
Only one life, 'twill soon be past,
Only what's done for Christ will last.

Only one life, yes only one,
Soon will its fleeting hours be done;
Then, in 'that day' my Lord to meet,
And stand before His judgement seat;
Only one life, 'twill soon be past,
Only what's done for Christ will last.

Only one life, the still small voice,
Gently pleads for a better choice
Bidding  me selfish aims to leave,
And to God's holy will to cleave;
Only one life, 'twill soon be past,
Only what's done for Christ will last.

Only one life, a few brief years,
Each with its burdens, hopes and fears;
Each with its clays I must fulfill,
Living for self or in His will;
Only one life, 'twill soon be past,
Only what's done for Christ will last.

When this bright world would tempt me sore, 
When Satan would a victory score;
When self would seek to have its way,
Then help me Lord with joy to say;
Only one life, 'twill soon be past,
Only what's done for Christ will last.

Give me Father, a purpose deep,
In joy or sorrow Thy word to keep; 
Faithful and true what e'er the strife,
Pleasing Thee in my daily life;
Only one life, 'twill soon be past,
Only what's done for Christ will last.

Oh let my love with fervor burn,
And from the world now let me turn;
Living for Thee, and Thee alone,
Bringing Thee pleasures on Thy throne;
Only one life, 'twill soon be past,
Only what's done for Christ will last.

Only one life, yet only one,
Now let me say, "Thy will be done";
And when at last I'll hear the call
I know I'll say "twas worth it all";
Only one life, 'twill soon be past,
Only what's done for Christ will last.

Only one life, t'will soon be past,
Only what's done for Christ will last. 
And when I'm dying, how happy I'll be,
If the lamp of my life has been burned out for Thee.

Grandma, you were always too humble to admit it, but your were truly a remarkable soul. I am so glad you are now in the presence of God eternally, face to face. There is no more pain where you are. And though we have tears here, deeply saddened over your departure, our faith in the same Savior gives us great hope of standing before the throne with you someday, singing together, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain."

Revelation 4:11 says: "You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things; by Your will they exist, and came to be." Grandma, God created you; by His will you existed and came to be. And how you lived your one life well for your Maker. 

May we be encouraged by your example to do the same.

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