On August 29 I lost my beloved Grandma. She was ill only for a brief time, and those who knew her will ache with loss for much longer. A queen of resourcefulness, a home-making genius, and the purest living example of Christ in my life, no short tribute can honor her enough. At the request of my family, here is the little piece I read at her memorial service:
I’ve had a book on my nightstand for a while. It’s called When the Game is Over it All Goes Back in the Box. In this book the author equates life with a board game, explaining the “rules” in biblical terms. I’m sure many of you have played a game with my Grandma. She told me her mother taught her to play 500 bid at an early age because they needed a fourth person to play. Grandma looked for any opportunity to play a game of “hand and foot” or dominoes. If there was a lull in the conversation during a visit she’d say, “Want to play a game?” She was a good game player and a patient teacher, but by the terms in this book, she was an even better player of the game that really matters.
The author’s main point here is to give less value to everything that is temporary: our possessions, money, resumes, youth, earthly bodies, securities, and other people’s opinions of us. And to live for all that is eternal: God, other people, our souls, and deeds of love.
An Ethiopian man told the author, “In the West, you measure a man’s wealth by his possessions. In this country, we measure his wealth by his friends” (30). Well, I’ve looked through most of the binders in which Grandma complied her genealogy research, and I didn’t see any Ethiopian relatives, but I know that what she valued most were her family and friends.
Clearly we aren’t the ones keeping score of this game, but I’m sure the One who is noticed how Grandma always put others first. God knows how much love we felt when we opened our mailboxes to find a hand-written note from her. He noticed the time she spent knitting gifts for us, for children in poverty, really for anyone who would like a pair of slippers or a sweater. I’m sure God noted the care she gave to her flowers, and how she welcomed people into her home for a delicious meal, always followed by dessert. Most importantly, I’m sure God noticed the sincere love that she poured into each act of service to us—the sort of love that can only flow so naturally from a person who knows Jesus.
All of us are here to honor the relationship we shared with this amazing woman. No one will ever fill the void left in our hearts today, but we can honor her memory by being like her in little ways. So love people who might not be easy to love, make a gift for someone who isn’t expecting it, and welcome someone into your home for a meal—and remember to do it all with the heart of a servant.
Will you pray with me?
Thank you for this life you’ve blessed us with for this season. Thank you for the richness and love she brought into our midst. Send your Holy Spirit to comfort us as we grieve her loss. As we remember her, help us to be like her, loving one another, expecting nothing in return, and writing a real letter once in a while.