After 75 years of love-giving life, my grandma passed away on Sunday morning, June 3rd. My dad’s call to alert me was expected as she had just recently entered hospice care, but still the weight of the conversation held with it a shock of realization that she would no longer be present on family visits to Florida.
As a child, our rental car from the airport couldn’t get to grandma and grandpa’s house fast enough. The moment we arrived we were embraced with hugs, pictures, typically a large pizza from Leaning Tower of Pizza, and just in time for an episode of Jeopardy where Grandpa would unashamedly beat us with his vast knowledge (except for any relevant pop culture: “What is ‘Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls’ by T.L.C.?” – he would never have got that question). As the night simmered, we knew what was last on the agenda and began to search for the much anticipated Keebler brand M&M cookies my grandmother would buy for us every visit. We knew they would be in the pantry, but grandma wasn’t going to make it that easy for us. She would hide them behind the flour or brown sugar just far enough away that it made it almost like a game for us. When we found them it was like we had won the Super Bowl. I can remember how big grandma’s smile grew as she saw our delight in something as simple as packaged cookies, and we related that smile to grandma was center-point of all that was good and holy on earth; Queen of Dessert Satisfaction.
Grandma’s death is followed by my grandfather (her husband’s) death a year and a half ago and comes recently after the move of my grandma on my mother’s side to Tuscaloosa, AL for specialized treatment in her increasing disability with dementia. Seeing my grandparents move into the final stages of their life, I’m beginning to be challenged more with the reality of life and limits it holds.
The writer of the Letter of James doesn’t wait to address the community of early-Christians with words of wisdom as he for tells the struggles of life ahead as Christians in Palestine.
“My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance, and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.” – James 1:2-4
Joy found through trials? It’s confusing right off the bat, but if we can picture the pain, struggle, or hardship as a potential growing point in the journey of our faith we may see new glimpses of God’s peace. In no way am I urging us to move quickly through the grieving process, but its important to know and affectionately be reminded that joy can and does come in the morning/mourning.
Sarah Young uses the words of Jesus in her daily-devotional book, “Jesus Calling,” as a way to nurture readers through Christ’s teaching. Her devotional for June 3rd (the day of my grandma’s death) states:
“The way to walk through demanding days is to grip My hand tightly and stay in close communication with Me. Let your thoughts and spoken words be richly flavored with trust and thankfulness. Regardless of the days problems, I can keep you in perfect Peace as you stay close to Me.”
So, thanks be to God for packaged M&M cookies; the smallest of gifts for a couple of children from Texas who were given by a beloved grandmother whose joy and love abounded. May God’s peace rest with her and be with all of us, whether were seeking it behind the brown sugar or throughout the doings of our everyday. Thanks for everything, grandma.