I am constantly amazed at how well we can adapt as humans. It truly is remarkable. In the past two weeks I finished my fourth year of college, ended my job of 2 ½ years, said farewell to housemates of 2 years, moved to Chicago with all new people and started a new job. Whew. Lots of new beginnings.
And to add to the craziness of life, my grandmother passed away on June 14th peacefully in her sleep.
I have mourned her life, spent many hours crying my eyes out and yet I have found incredible peace in knowing that she is with the Lord. She has a new body and is once again with my grandfather who has waited over 30 years to be reunited with her. She can breathe easily now and play piano once again, no longer damaged by her two strokes. As much as I will miss my gram, I am happy for her. Happy that she is no longer in pain and happy that the true life we are meant to live – free from pain, hardship and sin – is now a reality for her.
She was one incredible woman my grandmother. She was an English teacher to the end; well beyond retirement she insisted on informing the newspaper just how terrible the English language had become in the past 20+ years. She lost the love of her life to cancer, overcame her own battle with cancer and saw many, many life-long friends pass away over the course of her life. It amazes me that she kept on for all these years, but you cannot take the stubbornness out of the Papp. She was a fighter.
She had a deep appreciation for music that touched a nerve deep within her soul – most likely the same heart strings that only grandpa could play when he was still alive. I grew up listening to Frank, Gene and sappy old love songs; watching Singin’ in the Rain, On the Town and White Christmas; learning how to play piano with a phone book under my feet and gram by my side. She came to every single one of my concerts, musicals, plays and even came to see me run the half-marathon at the beginning of May.
She had a spunk that would drive us mad at times (spunk being a friendly word used here) and yet demonstrated a tenderness that always took me by surprise and melted my heart. She was a giver; she loved to buy us presents, send us Valentines and dote upon us as her beloved grandchildren. She supported my mission trips, always with a maternal word of caution, and was always interested in hearing about my life.
And she had that sweet, child-like, ornery smile that wrinkled her nose and was often accompanied by a shrug of her shoulders as if to say “I just can’t help it”. Delightful: that is how I desire to remember grandmother, with that youthful joy bubbling out of her weary soul.
She was rough around the edges, but I knew that she loved me nonetheless. As I have gotten older, God was showing me how to see her for who she truly is – who He sees her to be. I had learned to see her soul. Instead of seeing a weary, embittered old woman who sometimes behaved like a 6 year-old who simply wanted her way, God helped me to have compassion on her. The veil of judgment was lifted from my eyes and I was able to step into my grandmothers shoes for a brief time.
God helped me to empathize with the immeasurable loss she has experienced in her life: her soul mate, her sorority sisters, her fellow teaching buddies, her second husband of only 2 short years and her ability to do one of the few things that brought her true enjoyment: playing her piano.
He showed me the pain within her soul – pain that she had not given to the Healer – wounds that had not been transformed into Magnificent scars of His incredible work in her life.
He showed me the likeness of His character in her desire for things to be the way they used to be: simpler, truer, purer.
He showed me His love in her, always welcoming me back with open arms and always hating to see me go.
He showed me His tenderness through her glossy eyes as she reminisced the days of her youth and of young love.
He showed me the timeless nature of steadfast love – a love that doesn’t end with death but continues forever.
And even as she lay silent and still in her casket, He showed me more in that moment than all I had learned before. He opened my eyes to that which I cannot see: the life that we carry around in our bodies. Only until we are painfully aware of its absence can we acknowledge presence of something unseen.
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body” 2 Cor 4:7-11
Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.” John 5:24