Yesterday my grandma Elizabeth experienced yet one more transformation in her life.
Born in 1918 she experienced wars, depression, countless natural disasters, and the lives and deaths of so very many people.
When grandma was born they didn't think she'd survive. She was too small and was set aside, only to fight her own battle for life. Born, when she was, in an era where the lives of children were viewed a little differently, and many didn't live to see adulthood. At four she was able to pick up a phonograph record (the extreme pre-I-Tunes form of music) and know what the song was. Her aunt told her mother not to love talented Elizabeth too much. That the special ones always died young.
Grandma found her own mother peacefully absent from her body one afternoon. Weeks earlier she'd experienced a similar scare and it prepared her for the real deal. Grandma was widowed nearly two decades ago. Many other loved ones have gone before her.
My grandma taught me that bacon fat had it's place in baked goods. That strong coffee made a lovely addition to chocolate frosting. And that honey in a saucer wasn't to be taken literally. She taught me that popcorn was okay for dinner on Sunday nights and that when she said "Good Night!!!" I'd better skeedadle to bed or head for the hills because she was done!
Grandma could be counted on to have cookies around. And she could be counted on to laugh, as long as things didn't get too inappropriate. One of the funny movies we liked did not translate well once the "filthy" language had gone through the Grandma filter. And my innocent little five-year-old nearly had a stroke when she accused him of saying "the F-word". Apparently, I hadn't coached him that Fart was illegal to say in Kansas.
Grandma had been struggling with her eyesight over the past few years, losing most of it to macular degeneration. And her hearing was dim making family gatherings difficult for her.
Grandma didn't always love Jesus. She survived a World War, child rearing and the Great Depression without Him. But once He entered into the picture He became vastly important to her. And she was a Bible answer woman of great faith. Another legacy and a far more important one than bacon in baked goods (clearly, I've abandoned that what with the whole Vegan thing) and the proper care and serving of honey. Her frugality amazed me, and put her into legendary status. Did you know that the inner heavy plastic bag inside a cereal box has multiple uses? It's exceptionally handy as a plastic wrap substitute and can be used over and over again.
Grandma's growing frailty was a frustration to her. She couldn't see and hear well enough to do some of the things she loved. And sometimes she would lose her balance. Her lungs were a little prone to bronchitis and other baddies. My pharmacist dad kept her in vitamins and supplements and other than a little bit of help for aches and pains and some asthma relief, she didn't need pharmaceuticals. Her little frugal self was pretty proud of that, we all know how much those co-pays are.
Her death shocks me. Partially because Grandma is perpetually in her late 50's in my childish awareness that I could never shake. Partially, because even though she struggled with vision and hearing, she still did the things she wanted to do. Not that long ago she was regularly going on walkabouts to the bank that was a few blocks away. And the last time I took her to the grocery store my daughter and I could hardly keep up with her.
A few months ago I dropped some lunch by her place. When I walked in she was sleeping on her enclosed sun porch and I didn't want to wake her. She looked so frail I had a little shiver of fear. I called my Mom and she told me to wake her and so I did. Grandma had fallen in the night and ripped open her arm. She didn't want to call anyone and bother them, but was a little worried. I called my folks and brother. My brother lives close and he zipped over. We started to unwrap her injury to see how bad it was and we both got weak in the knees. She went to the emergency room (after much protesting) and got stitched up. Yesterday, she decided to do a little gardening and she took another tumble. And fell right into the waiting arms of Jesus.
She was born before televisions were in houses, let alone nearly every bedroom in America. She saw life bound from record players to I-Phones. Her first home probably cost less than our last used car. She ate organic when it wasn't cool, and has been a recycler all of her life. Nuclear power hung over a portion of her life like a mushroom cloud. She lived through scads of presidents, and respected a few. As a young woman she'd never have considered anything like a computer and then benefitted from the computer age through her grandchildren and great grandchildren.
My mom just told me that they had taken a recording of one of Grandma's favorite television preachers over the other day. She was excited to share what she learned with my mom. Through that preacher God had finally answered a question she'd had ever since she read about it. Why had Satan and an angel argued over the body of Moses? The preacher explained that because the Israelites had followed Moses into the parted Red Sea they were symbolically baptized into God's plan for the Israelite people. And Satan did not want that victory, that ownership to go where it belonged.
Pretty awesome. My 95 year-old grandma was learning right up until she took her last breath. And that my stubborn, strong-willed-little-prairie-woman of a grandma died while she was living.
Change. I've learned to embrace it, ride it out til the end. Sometimes I'm kicking and screaming, other times weeping with my eyes clinched tight. Once in awhile I ride like a dog in a car, head out the window snorting what life has to offer. Mother to young adult children, a marriage of thirty years, and a desert to mountain to valley waltz with God have shaped me into someone I never imagined I'd be. Life is short and I want to live it. Tears, sighs, laughter and change. Every morsel granted to me. Scrambled, shaken or stirred.