This week the location of my happiest childhood memories went up in smoke. My grandma’s house was consumed by flames. A house fire claimed it all.
I was nurtured by one of the best grandmas around and a cadre of aunties and great-grandmas, momma assistants all. For the first eleven years of my life, we all lived in the same small prairie town or nearby. My roots are deep in red Oklahoma soil.
Now I am a grandma. These women are my models, all Southern women, pioneer stock, tough cookies. They make peach cobbler and hold strong opinions, all delivered sweetly, with impeccable church manners and a pat on the cheek. The grandma funerals were packed with well-wishers from several states.
We’ve all moved away now, the house passing out of the family. I was two years old when my grandparents erected that new red-brick home. Now I’m in my fifties, and I hadn’t seen the house in years. In my mind’s eye, I walk through each room of that most precious of houses, picturing it just as it was when Grandma was living.
Somehow, when that house was still standing, I felt as if Grandma was there in some way, alive in my mind. Logically, I knew that wasn’t so. Now it’s gone up in smoke.
It was like losing her all over again. The loss of grandmas feels acute. They are wrenched from our arms. A week ago my children lost their own dear grandma. The women who nurture us leave their mark, their mothering imprinting us and shaping us. All are human. God takes their strengths and their weaknesses and forms us into strong women who overcome and carry their legacy.
The grandmas are passing. The older we get, the more widespread the apocalypse. I’m glad I still have my own momma and all my precious aunties. For a while.
“So teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts to wisdom,” Psalm 90:12 says.
With each passing and the eradication of homesteads and memory’s locus, God teaches us this lesson. Our very hearts are touched by this tutelage. It stabs us right there.
We must apply our broken hearts to wisdom. How?
Fifty years ago, my exuberant forty-year-old grandmother carried around my pudgy two-and-a-half-year-old self (shown here) as she chose carpet and tile and fixtures, so happy to build her own home after years of hardship on the Oklahoma plains. She furnished it particularly, and during her reign it sparkled. The new doorbell was a source of delight for me!
Now the house is toast, and my grandma is gone.
The hollow ache of revisiting her loss reminds me of the reality of the matter. We are fleeting on this earth. Only what we do to love others and live with Christ’s tenderness will last. Our investment in others, particularly our children and grandchildren, matters for all future generations. Someday our own homes will blow away in the wind, consumed by time.
Though the house with all the memories is charred, Grandma is alive and well in heaven. That is the fact that carries me through. She is in a better place, and I will see her again. Since she died in 1991 she hasn’t cared a whit about that home she so painstakingly decorated and furnished. All my memories of that home and her self aren’t as real as the eternal fact of her security in Christ.
The reality is that grandmas die, then mothers, then us, if all goes in order.
What legacy are we leaving? How will we be remembered? Will our grandchildren still long for us twenty years after we’ve gone? What kind of women are we?
Lord, teach us to number our days. Let us strive to leave a legacy of love.
How are you shaping your life around that priority?
Click to Tweet: The women who nurture us leave their mark, imprinting and shaping us. How do we also leave an everlasting legacy?
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