Lessons From My Grandmother…

giftAfter more than 93 years of life, my grandma died early Thursday morning. She has had many ups and downs over the past 18 months, but she proved to me and everyone I know that God truly has the final say. Doctors counted her out on several occasions, but “Lazarita” just kept on getting up! But, on Thursday, God declared that her work here on earth was finished. While death draws out many emotions, when one dies in the Lord, I find comfort in knowing that my loved one has gone on to their heavenly home. So, for me, Mom-Mom’s death is well with my soul!

As I was riding in my car this morning, I started thinking about the life she lived. I’ll be the first to admit, Mom-Mom and I had our share of differing views – she was quick to offer me unsolicited advice, feedback, opinions, and yes, sometimes criticisms – but, I’ve got to be one of the luckiest kids to have ever lived! God blessed me with two of the best grandmas ever known! They didn’t have a whole lot of material things, but they sure did have a lot of love to give. But, back to Mom-Mom. As I was riding, I thought of 3 key lessons my grandmother taught me. Mom-Mom taught me about acceptance, endurance, and sacrifice!

For many years, Mom-Mom worked at the Benedictine School, a school that served children and young adults with developmental disabilities. Upon her retirement, she served on the school’s Board of Directors as a member and honorary member until her death this week. My grandmother had the ability to look beyond each child’s disability and see their ability and zeal for life. As a result, most members of my family spent a bit of time working at the Benedictine School over the years. As a child, I remember going to work with my mother during the summers when she served as a summer school teacher there. I absolutely loved it…to this day, there are certain students who I can remember vividly! Something that may seem odd happened during those summer days – I learned to not view disability through a negative lens! I learned to accept all people as God’s amazing creation! At summer school, I was there in my Mom’s class just having fun with other students…I remember my favorite days were pool days! As I got older, I loved taking advantage of opportunities to volunteer at Special Olympics and be present for those who may feel like the outsider. It became a part of what defined me!

Mom-Mom also taught me how to endure. As children we often view the adults in our lives as perfect people. It’s not until we are grown ourselves that we fully understand their ability to survive the greatest of challenges in life! My grandma had it in her to face life’s challenges head-on! My grandfather was a diabetic his entire life, and she cared for him while working and raising their 5 children. My recent encounters with diabetes and its affects on one’s life has increased my respect for my grandmother tremendously! When life got hard, Mom-Mom continued to put on foot in front of the other. Multiple knee replacements…no problem! Fused leg…no problem! Lost daughter…no problem! Dementia…no problem! Mom-Mom’s ability to endure through life and all of its changes is a lesson in life for me!

Perhaps the greatest lesson I learned from my grandmother was sacrifice! She did that well. She was the oldest of her siblings, which meant she was not only a big sister, but a surrogate mother too! As if that weren’t enough, after raising her own children, Mom-Mom’s house was a haven for her grandchildren. Who needed a babysitter or summer camp when we had Mom-Mom’s house! Every summer my cousins and I would spend our days (and for some their nights) at out grandmother’s house. It was a sacrifice of love for her family! She dealt with their shenanigans (because I was always the good cousin). My brother and cousins would throw apples on the neighbor’s tin roof just to hear the thumping sound, then they would have contests to see who could throw the apples the farthest, and the worst, my cousins would write songs about me. Through all of our cutting up, Mom-Mom was always kinds to us (I only recall getting in trouble once for the apples); my Aunt Elaine used to threaten us with the switch off the tree, but not Mom-Mom, nope, she didn’t fuss with us all that much, so long as we didn’t interrupt her soaps or Norm Lewis on Channel 2 News.

I feel today as I did when Mom Putt passed away. I’ve managed to find peace while facing death. I thank God for the years He gifted me with Mom-Mom, He blessed her life abundantly and I’m one grateful soul! Now, I pray that my family remains close and perhaps grows closer through this!

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Sweet Memories!

Mom Putt

Walking home…

 

Well, tomorrow marks one month since my grandmother passed away, and while I miss her and think about her EVERY single day, I have nothing but sweet memories.  I’m not bitter or angry about her death, it’s sometimes just hard to remember she’s not actually here.  I often find myself laughing about the conversations she and I would share…or thinking about what her response would be to some of the things I manage to do…or just wishing I could have one more conversation with her!  I didn’t know how I was going to respond to her death…I questioned whether I would be able to pull myself together and handle it, but God has given me amazing strength to keep my head up in this season.  But it sure is tough, Mom Putt has always just been there for me…I still remember she and my grandfather giving me one of my first bikes…a pink bike with training wheels and a white basket…I remember her fixing pancakes for breakfast whenever I asked as a child…when I broke off my engagement, it was Mom Putt who gave me a lasting poem, Grandmother’s Pearls of Wisdom, that still hangs on my refrigerator…whenever I got an award or was recognized for an accomplishment, I could always count on Mom Putt to be rooting for me…for my 21st birthday, Mom Putt was the first in the car as went to the slots to celebrate!  Even though Mom Putt had health challenges…she always supported me, there were several occasions where she came to my churches in Baltimore even though she didn’t feel well to hear me speak or support me at Usher’s Day.  Not long before she passed, she even asked me to bring her some pictures of my place because she didn’t she would be able to come visit me and see my house.  That’s the kind of grandmother she was to me.  She was honest with me even with the tough stuff (like nasty cancer!), but she always loved and supported me. Mom Putt was so special to me!

Although she was the youngest of her siblings, Mom Putt truly was the matriarch of my Dad’s family and she created a unique (and sometimes challenging) family.  The older I get, the more I realize that not everyone shared a similar experience.  It was normal for us to have  dinner as an entire family at least twice monthly, it was normal for my parents to drop off chicken or turkey wings or a pot roast in the morning for my grandmother and aunts to cook for us to share for a family dinner in the evening, it was normal for Mom Putt to welcome anyone who wanted to stop by her house on any given day to stay for a few hours, few days, or few months…that’s just the way it was.  There will never be another Mom Putt…she was a unique lady!

So, yes life is now different, it’s tough, it’s challenging, it’s not always easy, but it’s well!

I pray that Mom Putt’s soul is resting and Lord knows I hope she doesn’t have those ushers marching around heaven all day!

Until next time…