I was going through some old files on my computer last night when I came across this conversation I’d recorded between Granny and I about 7 years ago. I’d completely forgotten about it! A lot has changed since then; Granny is now 102 (almost 103) and has moved into assisted living care since the death of my beloved Mother-in-law, Charlotte, who was her primary caregiver. I’ve dusted it off and found a few pictures to share as well…of Vera Gresham, a.k.a “Granny”.
“Sure.” I said. I met Granny in the doorway of her bedroom. She motioned to the bed. “Could you help me change the sheets on my bed? I have been meaning to change them and I thought you wouldn’t mind doing it for me.”
“Of course not Granny” I said, “I’m happy to help.”. Strangely, I was remembering Jesus words in my bible reading the night before speaking on how his disciples should consider it an honor and to serve without expecting any further recognition. This was my chance to practice on that thought some more. Little did I know, the gift I believed I’d be offering to her was soon to be mine instead.
We moved to either side of the bed and began to remove the sheets.
“I usually do this myself” she said, “but it takes me about 45 minutes to get it done because I have to sit on the edge of the bed and feel my way as I go around.” Granny, then 96 and nearly blind from macular degeneration, had lost little of her spunk and kept plugging along at whatever she felt she could manage.
As I helped her peel off the sheets and pillowcases, I smiled at her neatly folded nightgown and socks left underneath her pillow awaiting use that evening. Looking around her room, everything was in order–where she could find it easily by memory or touch. Meanwhile, she rummaged around in her dresser for a set of matching sheets and finally came up with the set she wanted. I stood there amazed at her ability to still be able to find what she needed although most of her sight was gone.
As we worked together we chatted a bit. And then a quiet settled in as I began to smooth and tuck. Granny broke the silence.
“You know Lorrie, I can’t go on for much longer.”
This was more than a statement of obvious information coming from a woman in her late 90’s. I could tell by the tone in her voice that she was deeply concerned. “Yes Granny, I know. What’s worrying you?”
“You’re right I’m worried. Worried that I will lose my mind and end up not being able to care for myself here any longer. I don’t want to go to a nursing home and I know I can’t get anyone to stay here with me and couldn’t afford that anyway.”
I confess to being just a little amused inside. It wasn’t funny at all but, here was Granny, worried about losing her mind and yet seemed to have so much more of it intact than most folks 20 years her junior! Still, this was a serious concern for all of us and most certainly for her. I wanted to reassure her in any way possible that someone would always be there for her.
“No Granny, I feel like if you were going to lose your mind, it would already have happened.”
Still, she went on to explain how she just couldn’t remember things the way she used to. How she couldn’t remember something from yesterday, but that she often could recall with such clarity things that happened to her when she was just a girl. I knew that quite probably her short term memory was slipping because she could no longer really see things to cement the memory in her mind whereas those other things still seem bright and clear because, although they’ve faded some, they still hold the color and light from long ago.
I decided to ask her a few questions about her early years and she began to rattle off stories of girls and parties, dresses and gardens and early Christmases. She told of marriage and babies and a photograph of her children that got her in quite a bit of trouble with Granddaddy! It seemed like she was in a talkative mood so I decided to ask her then the most important question of all. One I’d been hesitant to ask before.
“Granny, how old were you when you accepted Jesus as your Savior?” She stopped to think…maybe a bit surprised that anyone had asked her at all.
She said, “Honey, I just can’t remember how old I was but I will never forget that day. I sat there in that Methodist church and I just felt something, I don’t know…just a “spirit” telling me to go down to the altar. The Preacherman just kept talking and I knew I just had to go on down. I did and they took me off to a little room and prayed with me some. When I came back to my seat, Granddaddy was there and he said to me ‘Gosh, if I’da known you was going to go down, I’da gone with you.’ I told him I didn’t even know it myself! I’ve never forgotten that a day in my life.”
And it seemed to me that of all the things she could remember and of all the things she’d forgotten, Granny had known and remembered the most important thing at all; the day she met Jesus.
“You forgot a pillow case Granny.” Expertly, she rustled through the dresser drawer and even half-blind pulled out just the right one. Amazing.
“Granny, it seems to me that you still remember all the right things. Not every thing, but you remember what counts. When the time comes, Jesus will give you and the rest of us the peace we need to make the journey. For now, let’s just be here where we are and go there when we have to”
“That’s right.” she declared firmly, the tension gone from her voice. “And don’t tuck the bottoms in so tight, I need to leave a little “give” in the bottom of these sheets for my feet.” She tugged out a pocket, evenly all the way across the bottom and once again I stood amazed.
And I’m still thankful for the remembrance of that day 6 or 7 years ago and what I discovered with Granny while helping her change the bedsheets. I’m glad she met Jesus at some point in her life and I feel certain that she knows Him. I’m glad I asked.
We went to visit Granny again this past week. She is now in a very nice assisted living center and in her words, “Just does what she can!” At 102, you can’t ask for much more than that I suppose. She can’t see much beyond shadows but once you get her talking, she just goes on and on!
She cried when we left and my heart was broken. We couldn’t stay but I pray everyday that Jesus will show up and keep her company until the Lord calls her home to heaven where she belongs.
And my prayer for you Dear Reader is that you have this same sweet assurance for yourself and your loved ones so that at the end of your life and theirs here on earth, it will only be a moment of sweet transition.
******Note: We’ve just received the call that “Granny” Vera Gresham passed into the arms of Jesus this morning at 1:00. No doubt her daughter, our beloved Charlotte greeted her warmly with, “Mother? What took you so long to get here?” We love you Granny.