I stand in the grass close to another open grave under a perfect autumn sky. This grave is much different than the grave of an infant, or a young mother. Grandma Hoover has lived a long, full life. I’m so happy for her, finally able to exit her weakened body and fly free to a place of contentment. I’m sad for my Grandpa Hoover, who will now live alone. But it’s impossible to view the event as anything but a celebration for her.
But as the few hundred people cluster around the grave and sing songs about heaven from hymns copied on folded paper, I suddenly remember a difficult time in my life when I went to ask my Grandma Hoover for advice about something. Well, I don’t think I went there intending to ask her. But as she plied a needle in and out of a quilt top, thimble flashing, I decided to run my difficult situation past her.
I picture it in my mind. The quilt. The corner of the house. My grandma’s calm face as she stitches. But tears rush to my eyes as I realize that I can’t remember what she said.
There is one part of this that is familiar to all grieving people. Once someone is gone, you either remember what they said or you don’t. There’s no chance to go ask them again.
But the other thing that struck me was the nagging hunch that she hadn’t said anything especially profound.
In a world where people try to outdo each other with thoughts, posts, tik toks, self-help ideas, etc, I don’t think my grandma cared a whole lot about acclaim for original or funny or cute ideas.
Instead, she just lived a profound life. Don’t tell me that caring for eight children 7 years and under isn’t profound. Even if you just keep everybody from falling into the fire.
But she didn’t just survive. She taught them to knit and crochet and bake, boys and girls alike. My dad and I believe another uncle or two crocheted complex doilies with raised red roses ringing the edge. Whether they liked it or not.
In a low moment this week, I asked myself why I missed my Grandma Hoover’s genes. But realistically, it takes more than genetics to successfully manage a household of 11 children. It takes more than a certain arrangement of DNA to steer clear of bitterness. You have to be something more than passive to avoid a bad name. A peaceful smile at 90 years of age doesn’t happen by accident.
So does it matter that I forgot the advice she gave me, or if she didn’t even really give me any? I can remember how she lived. As Grandma knew, a life carries more weight than a neatly packaged speech. Better to see truth spread across the decades than to hear it one time.
I recovered my composure, and continued to sing, as the little great-grandchildren in front of me took turns scooping dirt into the grave with small child-size shovels.
I still wish I could remember what she said. But Grandma didn’t need flowery verbiage. Her actions over the course of 90 years and 200+ descendants are their own silent speech.
Hurray! Facing the Fugitive rolled in this week. Pre-orders have shipped.
Do you have a niece, nephew, or neighbor in your life who likes adventure but could also stand to think about the fruit of the Spirit? Or a child with a disability who would be inspired by a main character with a wooden leg who doesn’t let it stop him? You can pick up a copy from me or online. Soon to be found in country stores as well.
What is the Brady Street Boys series? Based on the fruit of the Spirit, it is expected to have 9 books. Trapped in the Tunnel is Book One. Here is the series description:
Terry, Gary and Larry Fitzpatrick live in northern Indiana along the St. Joseph River. President Reagan lives in the White House. Gasoline costs 90 cents a gallon. For families like the Fitzpatricks, computers and cell phones are still things of the future. The boys’ Christian parents teach them to pray and give them a project to learn the fruit of the Spirit. They help Gary navigate the pain of losing his leg and his firefighting dreams.
But having a wooden leg doesn’t keep Gary from adventures. With Terry the acrobat, and Larry the brain, Gary begins a quest to find an answer to the most important mystery of all.
What happened to the surgeon who amputated Gary’s leg, and has now disappeared?