Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Waiting at the River

Today, I helped my grandmother on her last journey. We walked her to the gravesite, and stood silently, reflecting. I watched my grandfather's face as said goodbye to his wife of nearly 55 years, a love that never dimmed. My mother and her siblings held one another as they patted her hands in the funeral home. I thought about all the things I'd learned from her.

You see, my grandmother taught me to cook. A little, at least. I grew up underfoot in her restaurant, she showed me how to make hamburger patties and chop onions. She ate the pretend food I made in my little kitchen in the back. She taught me to make milkshakes and banana splits.

She also taught me a fair bit about music. If there were five seconds in a row that my grandmother wasn't singing, they were sometime in her sleep. Any sentence, word, phrase, or glance reminded her of a song, and I swear she knew every lyric to every song written before 1970. That's not even counting the time she sang with her husband in gospel quartets. That's an entirely different set of awesome.

Mostly, though, she taught me about what the word "Christian" really means. They took us, she and Papa, to church every Sunday. She talked about Jesus as often as she talked to Him. Her every action was full of kindness, and I never heard a harsh word come out of her mouth. Granted, she got onto us plenty. We misbehaved like mad. But everything she said, even when she was trying to get our attention, was out of love. Everything she did, she did to help others. She'd put her own aches and pains and heart-hurts aside and ask other people, "what do you need? what can I do?" She was truly Christ-like, in ways I can never quite compare to.

Sitting there in the chapel pew, I heard the speakers crackle. My grandmother's voice flooded the room. She sang a song I'd heard her sing so many times in the past, but this time, it was different. "I'll be waiting at the river for you." This time, she meant it.Many people ask why I believe what I believe. I have plenty of reasons, but there's another to add to the list. Granny said she'd be there. And I never heard Granny lie.