Sunday, September 23, 2018

I Miss Her.

Recently I attended the funeral of an incredible woman.  Even though she lived a full life, we all still mourned her death.  Why?  …Because she had left an imprint on our hearts and made a profound difference in each of our lives.  With her gone, each of us would experience our own kind of emptiness.  Life would not be the same.

She lived to be ninety-three years old which is a huge achievement in and of itself.  Anna Patricia (Singmaster) Creek was married 47 years before her husband passed away.  She birthed 6 children… 4 boys and 2 girls.  She was grandmother to 13 precious angels, great-grandmother of 19, and great-great grandmother of 2.

She wore many hats and was called by many names. Some called her mom, sister, cousin, aunt, friend and more.  To me she was my grandma and to my boys their granny.  Even though she was ninety-three and I was… ahem a lot younger, we had a lot in common. Two things that come to mind immediately are the shapes of our faces (specifically the curves of the lower part of our cheeks.  You have to see a picture to really understand.  LOL) and the variety of ailments we struggled with daily.

In the last couple years she struggled a lot with her health.  Something was always aching or giving her fits.  I know because we lamented together.  I’m not as old as grandma was, but I struggle daily with an autoimmune disease that alters my life, interrupts my days, and begs for my attention constantly.

I think she told me all about her frustrations, because I truly understood.  I felt her pain.  I could relate.  I called her a lot to check on her and encourage her.  Battling with sickness can be lonely.  People get tired of hearing what ails you each day.  After awhile it can sound like a broken record… or at least we (the sick people) feel like it.  It’s refreshing to be able to share with someone who really understands.

We prayed together a lot.  I prayed for her.  I asked her before I ended my phone calls with her if there was anything I could pray with her about.  There was always something… her blurry eye, her swollen legs, her numb fingers or toes, or sometimes she simply had no words to share.  In those moments I prayed God would wrap His arms around her and hold her close.  She said she had no tears.  She couldn’t cry, but wished she could.

She always closed our time of prayer with a big “Thank You” and “I love you!”  I treasured our moments together.  I wish I could have seen her daily, but I lived 7 hours away.  The best I could give her was a weekly call to check on her. 

I remember calling one time and asking Grandma how she was doing.  She was frustrated.  She said nothing had changed.  She wished she had something new to tell me.  Everyday something different bugged her.  She didn’t know what to tell people when they asked how she was doing.  I told her I had a secret phrase I used for those who asked me.  It was a basic phrase that would work no matter what was going on with me health-wise that day.  Each day I ailed in a different way (the same as she did) so it was a hard question to answer.  When people asked how I was doing, I would always return their question with “I’m Hanging in there!”  She really liked that!  She repeated it several times with giggles.  I think she even wrote it down so she wouldn’t forget.

Even though my grandma struggled with her health, I don’t remember her always being this way.

When I was little she babysat me and my sister while my parents worked.  I remember the special walks we made to the nearby mall to visit my mom.  I walked beside my grandma as she pushed my sister in the stroller.  I remember Easter Egg hunts, coloring eggs, and on snowy days her giving me ziplock bags with rubber bands to put over my shoes so I could play outside. 

I remember the rain hats she wore… Where do you get these things?  I found some at an estate sale this summer and bought them.  Not that I am going to follow in her footsteps and wear them on rainy days… LOL.  I just wanted a reminder of her lying around the house. 

 … I remember hearing about her pocket book, her stories she liked to watch on TV, and oh how she loved those word books! 

She was always so good at keeping up with everyone’s special dates.  She loved to send cards for birthdays and anniversaries.  She really got upset at the end when she couldn’t keep up with everything. 

I loved to hear my grandma get tickled and giggle.  Some thing that really tickled her was when we talked about Betty White.  She loved her!  They were close in age so I often suggested that she could be acting too like Betty if she wanted to.  She would giggle in response.  Another giggle moment I would bring up randomly was when my husband danced her down the aisle at my sisters wedding.  He even spun her around.  It was a long aisle… LOL.  Hearing that high pitched squeal of delight was priceless.

One year my husband was asked to speak at a church in Kansas.  It was a quick trip up and back to minister there.  We made it a family event.  On our way home, we passed through a part of St. Louis (where my grandma lived).  We were in a hurry to get home because the kids had school in the morning.  It was late.  I begged my husband to go a little out of our way to be able to stop by to see my grandma.  I wanted to give her a quick hug and kiss before we headed home.  It had been a long time since I had seen her.  He obliged.  I called her to make sure she was home and asked if we could stop by.  She was shocked!  I loved the surprise on her face when we arrived.  Later she told my uncle how we had stopped by to see her unexpectedly and he wouldn’t believe her.  Well… not until he saw the picture I posted of our visit. 

We threw a surprise party for her 80th and 90th birthdays.  I loved seeing her expression as she became the center of attention.  She didn’t like it, but it blessed her.  For her 93rd birthday I decided to send her a bouquet of flowers.  I didn’t know what else to get her.  She had everything.  I found a small floral place nearby her house and ordered a reasonably priced bouquet of spring flowers.  I was hoping it would be a good size.  I had no idea when I ordered it that it would be SO huge!  It practically filled a whole table and barely fit into the vase.  She was overwhelmed and went on and on about them for weeks.  I’m so glad they brought her joy.

One memory toward the end of her life that still sticks with me today was our last prayer together.  She was in the hospital.  She struggled to eat, drink, and could barely talk.  Her voice was a whisper.  She was weak all over.  When I called someone had to hold the phone up to her ear for her.  I asked her how she was doing and she said… “I’m really bad Julie.”  I asked if I could pray for her and she said yes.  I prayed blessing, favor, healing, and peace.  When I was finished praying she spoke up louder than she had in days and said… “Thank You!”  I told her I loved her one last time as we closed our time together.  That was our last moment together.  I will treasure it forever.

My grandma had a life FULL of great memories.  At the funeral, we all sat and savored our own special times with her.  It was truly beautiful!

You can’t attend a funeral without becoming introspective about your own mortality.  Think about it…

What kind of life do you want to live?  What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind for others to follow?  What do you want others to say about you at your funeral?  How do you want to be remembered?

Our choices today influence the memories left behind tomorrow.

James 4:14 says…
“…yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life?  For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.”

We aren’t promised tomorrow.  We need to capture the gift of each day and spend it well.  Hug people more, speak words of encouragement, lavish love on others, give grace, forgive quickly, say “I love you” often and “I’m sorry”, and spend countless hours savoring the moments you have with the ones you love.  Live a life with no regrets… Cherish the memories made, the lives impacted, and the journey traveled. A life well spent is a life well lived.

Let’s make it our goal to become intentional about loving others well this year.

Living to leave a legacy,

God thank you for all of the special people you have placed in our lives.  They are such a blessing to us.  I pray today we would realize the treasure we have in those around us.  Help us to savor our moments with all of our loved ones.  Help us to live in such a way that others would remember us well.  Thank you for the blessing of today.  Please help us to live a life with no regrets.  We love you fiercely!  Amen.