My Grandma Helen was one of the best people I’ve ever met – probably the best. She espoused “Christian” values in the very best way possible – through her actions. Each morning, she spent an hour or two praying for everyone from her family to the president. She taught until her late 60s, when the district said she had to retire. Then she ran the homeschool division of her school district until she had to retire from there too. After that, she tutored children in her hometown. She adopted three children in her life – two as infants (including my father) & one after her children were grown & her husband had passed – a teenage girl. She always had food for anyone who stopped by, and she drove “elderly” members of her church to the store & to worship until she gave up her driver’s license around age 90.
Our lives are very different. With 75 years separating our years of birth, I know aspects of my life would be shocking to her (but I married him, Grandma, so the living together doesn’t count – right??), as hers would be to me. However, since I was a small child, she impressed upon me that we are bigger than ourselves. We’re a part of a community – be that at our home, school, church, city or even larger level.
I have always had her in my mind when volunteering – sometimes expressly volunteering at an activity that I know she’d have loved to do herself, sometimes as an afterthought, an “I wish I could tell her about this” moment. This morning, as part of Love Modesto, I took carnations & conversation to people in a couple of retirement homes, something Grandma did at Bethany Home for as long as I was alive, certainly, until she went there herself. When talking with a woman who missed her grandchildren who were away at college, I started crying, and we talked about my grandma for quite a while. As we left, the woman took my hand and told me that my grandma would be proud of me and the adult I became, and I’m just holding onto that today.
I’m so grateful for my life, my home, my husband & family, but especially that I had such a strong inspiration early on. It’s a sentimental day, and I do miss my grandma.