January 14, 2009

Gramma Lil

I found another writing I thought I'd share... Just for a bit of background info: My mom's mother was Helga. After she died, Grampa married her little sister, Lil. They had been great friends and wanted to care for each other. They got married at our family reunion when I was 12 and she was quickly Gramma Lil to all of us.

This is what I shared at Gramma Lil's funeral. It's interesting to read now after some of the things I've written about just recently, before I found this.

My mom and Gramma Lil

I have struggled this week as I've been unsuccessfully explaining to my co-workers what a wonderful woman Gramma Lil was. I have also struggled with the task of putting it down on paper. I have struggled because it is difficult to express with words. Her spirit was unique and not something that can be explained. I was priveleged enough to experience it.

As I think over the years I've been blessed to spend with her, I remember so many times. I remember escorting her to Wisconson in the Spring of '98 to visit Kathy [her daughter who had special needs and lived in an assisted living center out there]. I remember her requesting my help in organizing her pantry when I was visiting the summer I was 15. I remember the butterfly bathtub grippie stickers she put on her screen door so she wouldn't walk into it! And I remember her bridal shower when she married Grampa. I remember introducing her to Robert last year. After they met, He left the room and she quickly said, "He's cute!" (She caught me off guard with that one!!) I remember doing her hair and trying to teach her how to use her new curling iron... we finally gave up. I remember surprising her for her birthday and meeting long-time friends of hers who remembered praying for me more than 20 years earlier after I had been run over by a car! And I remember her commitment to pray for Robert and I on our trip to Russia, then telling her about the trip only six days ago. I also remember bawling my eyes out the morning I was getting married because she couldn't come to our wedding!!

I could go on and on with stories that make our hearts smile, but the time I remember most is the few weeks in the winter of '94 when we were in Princeton together. I had decided to spend my Christmas vacation there with Gramma Lil and Grampa in order to help Lil take care of him. That was when I realized what a treasure she was... She not only bathed, fed, dressed, lifted, pushed, chauffeured and prayed for him. She cared for him. She loved him, no matter what he gave back.

After Grampa died, I went through a period of questioning God's plan. I didn't understand why He would choose her to suffer through the loss of two husbands dying of cancer. I didn't think it was fair, because she was such a treasure. She had such a great attitude. I never heard her speak ill of another or utter a cross word at anyone. Even when she was scolding she sounded nice! She always had something positive to say. Surely God wasn't trying to teach her anything. After all, she was such a good woman. She didn't need that stretching, or so I thought.

After several months of this spiritually immature thinking and prayer for wisdom, God gave me a small understanding of His will for His people.

God doesn't exempt us from suffering because we are kind or gentle or precious. God uses that suffering to make us more kind, more gentle, more precious, and ultimately, more like Him.

Each time I have read through the book of Ruth, I have thought of Gramma Lil and her faithfulness to people. She gave so much energy and love to Grampa after Gramma [Helga] died and so much more when he was sick years later. She adopted us all as her own grandchildren and shared her heart with us. She loved us and opened her heart to us because God has given her a heart for Him. It is through her suffering that God has developed that heart. And I am so thankful that God has allowed me to be blessed by a relationship with her. I only wish I had discovered that treasure earlier.

As I strive to be a Godly woman with a gentle spirit, and realize how very far I have to go, I often think of Gramma Lil. She was not perfect I understand, but I feel strongly that she is most accurately described by these verses which are often the focus of my prayer for Godliness:

1 Peter 3:3,4 "Your adornment must not be merely external: braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God."

Written August 2000, I think! She was a treasure, and I feel very fortunate to have known her. Many of us miss out on the treasure of a wonderful grandparent, and I was fortunate enough to have several.


Anonymous said...

Good, good memories, Lissa. Love love love love love you.


Kjirstin C said...

This is so true Lissa - she was an amazing woman! For me, she was really the only Gramma I ever knew, and this brings back some wonderful memories of her. Thank you!

rainydaymichele said...

Very touching, Melissa. Thank you for sharing your heart and stories about your Grandma Lil.