As I watch my children working to become who they want to be, I realize that each of them has chosen a path of helping others. Each journey destined to change them in ways they never expected. But, each feels a calling that cannot be denied, to follow and see where it will lead. This made me think about the influence of service in my own life, which naturally led me to my two grandmothers.
My Grandma, Dad’s mother, was a woman full of fun. With a ready smile, she was outgoing and full of energy. Couldn’t cook worth a flip but she, along with her sister, could ride heard over the six boys they raised, as well as six little granddaughters visiting for the week. They’d have every day organized, including taking us on outings, having us laughing at every turn, and still, they’d never lose any steam. They seemed to have an abundance of energy and lots of fun ideas for us to experience.
Grandma raised three rambunctious boys of her own, who kept her on her toes. Between chores, school work and practicing their instruments, the brothers had formed a band and performed quite often. Two of her boys, my father included, joined the Navy during wartime. Later, after Granddad passed, Grandma decided she wanted to share her talents, so she joined a Sunday school and played piano for the class. This wasn’t enough to fill her days, so she and her sister joined something called Navy Mothers’ Clubs of America, which they referred to simply as Navy Mothers. On a regular basis they would visit the local veteran’s hospital, visiting with patients and heading up bingo games.
I’ll never forget one night when my cousin and I were staying with Grandma for the weekend, she and my great aunt took us down to “help” with bingo, and Grandma gave us a serious talk before we went in. She said it was fine to visit but that we might see some unusual things and to be sure not to stare or ask the patients any questions about their injuries because it might embarrass them. And if we had any questions about what we saw, we were to wait until we got into the car to go home and before asking. Although we were nervous, we were polite and helpful, but boy did we have a lot of questions when it was time to go home! That night Grandma taught us about service, patience and compassion. Later, my cousin became a nurse, and I wondered if that experience had as big an impact on her as it did on me.
My grandmother on my mother’s side was a sweet but shy woman with a big heart. She managed to raise five children to adulthood all on her own, taking on whatever work necessary to feed her family. Over the years, some of her varied jobs included playing piano for another church, picking cotton, taking in laundry, and office work. Besides being able to make a meal stretch to feed six and still taste delicious, she also made clothing for her children, as well as some of her grandchildren. I never heard her shout or really even get very angry (although my brother and I were a real trial to her). She never had much, but she was generous with all she had. And I never heard her say an unkind word about anyone. She taught me about cooking for others and generosity of the heart.
I don’t know who influenced my children in the choices they’ve made, leading them on their current paths. But I can say, that as parents, we are very proud of their choices so far.
Our prayers and love follow our children as they continue on their journey. Godspeed.