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The Last Time I Saw My Grandmother

-With Mother's Day just ahead, I wanted to share this reflection about my grandmother with a photo of her from the 1960s I cannot find. In it, she is exiting her early '60s vintage mint-green Rambler American four-door sedan wearing sunglasses. I cannot think of another grandmother who could have made that old boxy car cool, but Ola could. (Thankfully, we have this lovely photo from the '90s of Susanna with Ola, which we see and enjoy everyday in our sunroom.) Posted in grateful memory of all our grandmothers and mothers, grace and peace, Bob Guffey


The last time I saw my grandmother, Ola, she sat both smaller and greater than I had seen before, ninety-six birthdays showing in her face. Those ninety-six birthdays showed not so much from the lines or wrinkles in her face but in the worry and pain in her eyes. Unable to move on her own from bed to chair or to stand unassisted, she sat and wondered aloud if this would be our final visit this side of heaven. It was to be.

 

She sat unable to move around the large, old, round wooden table in her kitchen in the small, cozy, white house that sat at 307 Jack McEnery Street in Monroe, Louisiana. That kitchen, that house, exist now only in our memories.

 

The daylilies out front, the pale blue and pink hydrangeas out back, bloom now only in our minds and in whatever echo of heaven that seeded their beauty and warmth upon the earth – and in my own yard back home in the pale blue and pink hydrangeas I have planted over the years in sustenance of a memory.

 

She sat unable to drive herself to work as a volunteer at the hospital, where she was a founding member of the volunteer auxiliary, or to teach four-year-old Children’s Sunday School at the First Baptist Church or to travel the state and beyond as she once did, attending with love and encouragement the birthdays, graduations, and weddings of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

 

She had survived the loss of her husband, over forty years earlier, and the untimely death of her daughter – our mother, who was only 55 years old when taken by that earthly evil named Cancer. She is not so sure she has many days remaining for memory or gladness or pain.


She sat within the limits of age that made her seem both smaller and greater.

 

Beyond this moment of awareness, transcending the closing parenthesis of this life, her spirit stood tall and formidable, her love and determination burning brightly in her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-greats.

 

The sparkle in her eyes brought strength to we who knew her love. Her stubborn refusal to give up reflected the fierceness of God’s love within.


Had she been born in a later time, in another era where the choices available to women were more expansive, more like today, her bright mind might have taken her many places. In her time, she took her callings as wife, mother, and friend and made a legacy through the raising of generations of children who were loved into making a difference in God’s world through involvement in the home, the professions, and their communities; children who, whether we remember it often or not, are graced by her legacy of service, determination, grit, quiet strength, a bright mind – and a measure of that same stubbornness, which is, of course, a blessing at some times, but not at all times, as our own spouses and families might say.

 

Beyond this moment of reflection, we shared tears, kind words, and a kiss on the cheek of goodbye. 


Eternally grateful,

BG



(Ola Melissa Dickerson Mobley left this life on February 6, 2009. She lived and lives to the glory of God.)


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