I knew my great grandmother for 21 years. I thank God for that. Few people are blessed enough to make a statement like that.
I would often drop in and visit with Grandma and our conversation would generally lead to a story. Grandma told me that her father immigrated to America from England by boat and she would tell me how her little sister, Ethel, died as a child when she ran across the road and was accidentally hit by her older brother’s friend. Grandma would also talk about the time older brother died of diphtheria on the kitchen table and she heard the doctor say “We need to get Edith next.” At this point in the story Grandma would always say “Honey I thought they were gonna kill me next! I took off a runnin!” Her grandpa caught her as she was flying out the front door. He sat on her as she screamed and squirmed while the doctor simply gave her a vaccine.
Grandma’s seemingly favorite story to tell me was when her family moved out of town. She stayed in town with her grandmother to finish the 8th grade and attend high school. Grandma and her friend would tell her grandmother that they were going to the library to study, but instead they would sneak down to the dance floor where Long John Sliver’s is now because she absolutely loved to dance. One night as she was twirling around the dance floor, she caught sight of her brother-in-law who caught her by the arm and said “your mother is outside in the car.” Grandma knew her town days were over.
She also liked to tell me of the time her and Grandpa Wayne were going to a church event. When they pull up in the church parking lot, Grandpa just said “you want to get married tonight?” And of course she was “yes!” so they went to Kentucky where she lied about her age on the marriage license. When they came back that night they pretended they had went to the church event. They didn’t tell anyone of their marriage until a week later.
A lot of times she would end these stories with “Honey, I was a wild child. The Lord didn’t get ahold of me until after Wayne and I were married.”
Once their families found out they were married, Grandpa Wayne and Grandma Edith moved into a little one room house where both my grandpa Larry and great-aunt Sharon were born. She told me more stories about living there and her fear of the animals they kept as well as digging the well that is still right outside her back door. Through the years they added on to that one room house until it became the little five room house I knew as Grandma Edith’s house.
My favorite memory of Grandma’s house was Christmas. Yes, all nearly all 50 some odd of us would squeeze into that little house for one evening in December. There would be food, wrapping paper, toys, laughter, and family everywhere.
Speaking of family, Grandma held the Evans family close to her heart. She could tell more about the Evans family tree than she could her own.
Then there are the others. You may not be related by blood or by marriage, but you were family too.
If anyone ever helped Grandma Edith with anything, from washing her windows to taking her to her Friday hair appointment, you didn’t have to ask her if she was ready or what to do next cause she would tell you. From what I heard, Thursday night at the hospital, she was telling people to go home and the nurse what to do. As a matter of fact. Grandma was still giving orders after her death. She had this funeral pretty well planned out.
Grandma was stubborn and determined. In the last 15 years or so of her life had heart surgery, a broken wrist, and a broken hip. She pulled herself through each one because she was determined to be independent and live at home. So, Thursday (February 11th), when she fell and broke her other hip, I didn’t think much about it. Her death shocked me. Honestly, I thought If anyone could live forever, it would have been Grandma Edith. But I know this: Grandma was ready for heaven. She those who had already passed on. She wanted to go home and run those streets of gold. Several different times, I can recall her saying “I don’t know why the Lord still has me here on this earth,” but I do.
As I watched her keep her door unlocked to anyone wanting to come in, I learned that an open heart and home is never a lonely. I watched as family and close friends felt free to rummage through her kitchen and how she would make sure there was a good stock of our favorite snacks in her cabinet and fridge, I learned that sharing what you have brings more joy to yourself than to others. As she told me about her wild days and ended the stories with cautions and warnings not to do that myself, I learned that the mistakes I make in life can help others. I watched her go though each one of her broken bones and surgeries and learned that stubborn determination through pain and doubt is what will get you through it. I also heard her when the wondered at the Lord’s plans in leaving her here on earth so long yet I saw her stubborn determination to stay here until Friday afternoon when she heard the call to go home. And I learned that though you may not understand what God is doing in your life, you continue to do what he has you doing with all the power in you until He says otherwise.
You see Grandma, all those years I was watching you and I was learning. Thank you for sticking it though and being such a great role model.