Everyone has someone whose life one admires; someone who helps one learn what is important in life by the way they lived theirs; someone who imparts wisdom, though often in subtle ways such as funny stories about past missteps which lead to long belly laughs. I am blessed to have and have had several such people in my life. I try and go out of my way to seek them as I think I need all the wisdom I can get and I love belly laughs. The person I want to talk about now, however, I didn’t seek out. I guess you could say I inherited her. She’s my mother’s mother and I call her Beautiful.
I don’t remember exactly when I started calling her Beautiful. It wasn’t while I was a kid. Then she was just Granny. Granny was old and wrinkly with the whitest hair I’ve ever seen on someone other than a store Santa at Christmas time. And she was funny! We always laughed at her house. Sometimes when I was little I didn’t know why I was laughing exactly. It’s just that everyone else in the house was laughing and it kinda was contagious.
I liked going to Granny’s house. We didn’t live near her until I was in Junior High School so we only saw her a couple of times a year. But at Granny’s house we could have coffee. Granted it was mostly milk, but Granny didn’t treat us like little kids. She treated us like treasures.
After we moved closer to her and as I got older, I learned much more about Granny. I learned that she was 38 and completely white-headed when she had my Mom. Of course, after getting to know my four crazy uncles I can see why she was white-headed by then. I learned that she worked outside the home between the births of her children which was unusual for that time and place. I learned she was a good business woman who ran a small store when my Mom was older. She kept it until the time she retired when I was very small. I still remember sitting in the window eating bologna and crackers and drinking Grape Nehi. I learned that she had invested in real estate and had rental properties around town. That she was a wonderful seamstress who made beautiful Barbie clothes for me with tiny cap sleeves, set in waistbands and gathers in the skirts. Most of all I learned that laughter and family are what get you through hard times.
So when did Granny become Beautiful? I’ve seen a couple of pictures from when she was younger and she was very pretty, but not yet Beautiful. She didn’t become Beautiful until years of life developed in her a spirit which could be seen by those around her and drew them to her. She didn’t become Beautiful until her care and hospitality extended to her community and church family. She didn’t become Beautiful until love for God and man shined from her smiling eyes. I just couldn’t see it until I was grown.
I’m still learning from Beautiful. Next week the family will gather with her to celebrate her 100th birthday. She lives with my parents now and has for a few years. It was hard for her to give up her independence. She was still doing the trim work on her yard when she was 90! She didn’t think the yard man did it very well. And the only reason she had a yard man is we “broke” her riding mower so she wouldn’t try and mow the slope of her side yard anymore. In any case, I’ve learned that sometimes you need to give up your independence and trust your life into the care of others. I’ve learned that getting old isn’t easy and it’s important to have loving family close by. I’ve learned that the stories get better over time and the belly laughs are longer and harder. And I’ve learned that being ready to meet God is the most important thing of all.
So here’s to Beautiful and 100 years of life, love and laughter!
“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quite spirit.” James 5:10-11 [NIV]