The deep midnight irises rested in an aluminum bucket full of water. Sitting in the back seat of the station wagon, I straddled the bucket to keep it steady. It was cool against my legs.
We were visiting grandma again, my mom’s mom. Aunt Lois (grandma’s sister) always let us cut the irises from her back yard to take. Occasionally, Aunt Lois joined us, like on this trip.
I always liked visiting grandma. We only went when the weather was as bright as Aunt Lois’ polished silver tea set.
Visiting grandma was one of the rare times when mom would let me roam free. The well-manicured lawn felt good under my bare feet. I hated shoes, still do.
Mom didn’t have to worry that I’d break anything. The cold grey headstones weren’t budging no matter how hard I tried to topple them.
Grandma’s neighbors had all sort of strange names and dates. One of Grandma’s neighbors was a drummer boy for General Washington during the revolutionary war.
That’s my first memory of my maternal grandmother. To this day, cemeteries hold a strange allure for me and I adore deep midnight bearded irises.
By the time I went with mom to the cemetery on that Memorial Day, Grandma Lucy had been dead 20 years.
Grandma Lucy was raised on a farm in Bowling Green, KY. When she was around 13 years, she broke her hip. The doctor ordered her to stay in a horse sling to help the hip set properly. She ignored him. Lucy’s mom, my great grandmother, didn’t pay much mind to her healing daughter because she was trying to keep up with the other 9 kids. As a consequence, one of Grandma Lucy’s legs was shorter than the other. She had to wear a built-up shoe to even out the difference.
Lucy Anna Crowe married Robert William Wall in 1917. Robert came into the marriage carrying an infection he contracted while in the Army. He was last in line to be inoculated with the Army surgeon’s communal needle. Little did he know, he would never be healthy again. His heart succumbed to the infection in the early 1930’s. He left Lucy to raise 4 pre-school aged children during the depression.
As a crippled widow, she somehow kept 4 little ones this side of hungry while helping others in her church and in her community in small ways.
If trouble came her way, Grandma said, ‘God will work it out.’ She found a way to smile, and laugh, and keep her heart on the sunny side.
She took in laundry, sold handmade quilts, and was humble enough to accept help when offered from the women at her Methodist church. She never was compensated by the Army for my grandfather’s death.
When WWII broke out, all three of her sons went to war which left empty bedrooms. Her entrepreneurial spirit showed through when she rented those rooms to people who came to the big city for war-time work. Rent included dinner.
When WWII was over, all three of her sons came home.
Although, I never met her on this side of heaven, I know her.
I know Grandma because I watched my mom tackle nearly any problem head on. I watched my mom smile, and laugh, and keep her heart on the sunny side. How could you not learn courage from a crippled widow who kept you clothed, fed, and sheltered during the worst depression in history?
I learned the power behind Grandma’s light heart from her mustard seed necklace (seen in the graphic above). Mom taught me the meaning behind the clear little orb and its occupant seed.
“…truly I tell you (says Jesus) if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you,” Matthew 17:20.
You only have to have a little faith in Jesus. He will give you the strength to do incredible things, like being able to walk after a horrible bone break, keeping you and your kids fed during the depression, and helping others in spite of your poverty.
She didn’t have fine possessions. She had something much more valuable. She had an abundance of love and she wasn’t stingy in sharing it.
My little Grandma Lucy died at the age of 56 from untreated vulvar cancer. In her funeral registry, there are over 300 signatures of people who loved her enough to come say good-bye.
I’m blessed to have inherited her black hair, blue eyes, and maybe a little bit of her spunk. However, I’m most blessed to have witnessed through my mother’s eyes that life with Jesus doesn’t have to be easy to be full of deep seated joy and even laughter.
Someday, I will meet my grandma Lucy. What a wonderful reunion it will be.
Do you let your situation victimize you or do you choose to keep on the sunny side knowing that there is hope here and hope in heaven because of Jesus?
We will be but vapors someday. However, the mist of our influence can waft through generations. Consider the legacy you will be leaving.
|1952, Grandma Lucy’s last Mother’s Day.
Lucy is wearing a hat and a Mother’s Day corsage.
My mother, Mary, with corsage, is standing on Grandma’s left.