Saturday, August 28, 2010

A Legacy to Covet

Yesterday morning I got an email that a friend's mom had died. In the inevitable pain and flurry of chaos and grief surrounding the death of a beloved soul, my dear friend had thought she'd emailed me earlier but had not. I shot back an email asking the time/place of the funeral. Asherel and I were in the midst of our school morning, and she had her dog walking job at noon. We had a couple of hours, though the funeral was an hour away.
"If we hurry, we can do this," I said, and we dashed off to walk dogs, eat lunch, and get dressed. Bless dear Karissa who had gone shopping with and talked Asherel into buying a lovely dress last week. She therefore actually had an appropriate dress to wear now.

As we headed to the funeral, I tried to prep Asherel who had never been to a funeral. I myself have been to very few. Maybe in fact, only two. I told her there really is nothing you can say that will help. The best thing you can do is just be there with them in their pain, and tell them how sorry you are. I told her about how when my good highschool friend's grandma had died, I had no idea what to say, so I didn't say anything. I just pretended it hadn't happened. My friend was understandably very hurt by that ignorant response.
"It will be sad and it will be hard," I told Asherel, "But it is very important that we are there, and that we hug our friends." (the granddaughter is one of Asherel's best friends, though since they moved an hour away, we see them rarely.)

I knew the grandmother. We called her Nana, like her family. Matt is good friends with one of the brilliant sons of the family, and we had traveled to math meets together for years. Nana always came along. She was unfailingly upbeat, and joyful, and smiling. She also was always knitting. She would knit little socks for premature babies. It was one of her little ministries to show God's love to a small part of His kingdom. Nana would often answer me, when I asked how she was doing, "As well as could be expected for 85....but God is good. I have my family all around me, and God loves me....what more do I need?" She said the same thing at age 86, and 87.... and so on til she died at age 91 Wednesday.(or just shy of 91... not certain of her age.)

Piece by piece, as the funeral progressed, the picture I had of Nana was embellished, beginning with her love of music. She had wanted her granddaughter, Asherel's beloved friend, to sing "Jesus Loves Me," at her funeral. So thin and grieving little Caroline stood before the full church, and with no musical accompaniment except her lovely voice, she sang those words that Nana had lived and believed for 91 years. It was then that I discovered I had packed no tissues in my purse.

Nana's last months had been bedridden, and wracked with pain and nausea. It had not been easy for her or the family. But her comfort was always that God was her friend and her family was near. It was all she wanted, and she recognized it was all she needed.

As I watched the family at the front, their arms all encircling each other, heads sometimes dipping to lie on the shoulder of the one next to them, I thought of what a tremendous legacy Nana had left. She had been a stalwart model of faith and love of God being poured out on others, and the immediate, palpable result was this family in front of me, holding each other up.
Her faith, simple and profound had been perfectly stated in the well known song "Jesus loves me, this I know" and poured over the people gathering to say goodbye.

It is the legacy I would want more than anything to leave in my wake. If God grants me 4o more years, I pray I could grow to be more like Nana.

John 15:10-11
Christ says, 'If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love,
just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. I
have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that
your joy may be complete.'

Matthew 25:23
23"His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'

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