A family’s living faith

Published 10:06 pm Thursday, July 27, 2017

By Tonya S. Swindell

My 92-year-old paternal grandmother went to be with the Lord recently.

Her abiding faith reminded me of the biblical example set by Lois, who passed faith to her daughter, Eunice, and her grandson, Timothy. And the special relationship Grandma had with her daughter-in-law reminded me of the biblical story of Ruth and Naomi.

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Grandma usually wore a housecoat with multi-colored flowers whenever my parents, brother and I visited the small brick house she owned with my grandfather. She smiled showing flashes of gold teeth among her white teeth.

Then she looked at me and said, “Oh, hi baby!” Her brown eyes shone behind golden, wire-rimmed glasses that were framed by her short and wavy, black hair.

Grandma’s body was heavyset and strong due to the hard work she performed while pressing clothes for a local dry cleaner and the wholesome, homegrown foods she prepared for her family from her small, backyard garden.

Her skin was the color and texture of slightly browned butter, and I felt Grandma’s warmth whenever we hugged.

Grandma sat quietly and calmly in her plush, royal blue recliner, her eyes squinted as if she was deep in thought. Eventually she went to the kitchen and prepared plates of fried chicken, speckled butter beans with okra, and egg custard pies for dessert.

Before ending our visit, our family gathered in a circle and held hands while my Dad prayed over us. Once I got older and visited Grandma with my husband and children, she’d say, “Y’all stick together.”

Later Grandma was placed in a nursing home after having a stroke. Even though her speech became difficult and Grandma’s teeth were eventually gone, her eyes lit up, and she managed to say, “Ooh!” whenever our family entered the room. At some point, my grandfather was placed in the same nursing home.

After Grandma’s daughter, son and husband passed away, her daughter-in-law, who is my mother, transferred her to a nursing home to be closer to us. Mom visited Grandma almost daily, asking her or her roommate how her day was, feeding her meals, and bringing her fresh, clean clothes. We celebrated special occasions, and sometimes Grandma got to attend the church my Dad pastored before he passed away.

Although Grandma’s body shrank, her faith didn’t. A week before she passed away, a visiting minister commented to me, Mom and three of my children that Grandma really praised the Lord during church services.

Three years after moving closer to us, Grandma took her last breath in the company of my mother, who was bringing her flowers sent by my brother.

Grandma passed abiding faith, hope and love to generations of our family, like Lois did for Eunice and Timothy in the Bible. Like Naomi, Grandma also benefited from the kind spirit of a loving daughter-in-law who latched onto her with love.

The faith of our family continues.

Tonya Swindell writes a blog for www.inspirenewlife.org and a teacher for Kingdom Building Equipping School (KBES.com). She can be reached at 1brightot@gmail.com.