This was a guest post for my friend Shannon a week ago. I shared the link on my FB account for those of you who follow me there. Since it was a topic close to my heart, I wanted to post it to my blog to go back and relive. However, make sure you stop by Shannon's blog and say hi for me.
Summer time always makes me think of my Grandma. I didn't have the privilege of growing up near family. My grandparents lived in Ohio, and we lived in New Orleans. We usually just went up there once a year, often during our summer break. She died a couple years ago, but my mind never fails to wander to memories of her. This summer I am taking Jude to her farm, and the anticipation of reliving those moments has been so bittersweet.
I often look at the world around us and wonder why we are so driven by more more more. (I think that is one of the many things I love about Shannon- she appreciates the simple. Her photo shoot at home so warmed my soul.) My grandma grew up as a farmer's daughter and farmer's wife in small town Ohio. She relished the simple, and she did it well.
Her house at Christmastime.
Here are some simple memories that I cherish more than any others in my childhood:
* the cold creek water and minnows swimming around your ankles
* shelling peas into a wicker basket on the back porch
* waking up with sunlight streaming in her big country kitchen (and in the winter she still burned her old wood stove)
* baskets and baskets full of ripe red raspberries, and my fingers and mouth appearing to be permanently stained
* exploring in her old attic
* windows open at night with box fans in them. She didn't get AC until I was in high school.
* jelly jars full of lightning bugs we had caught while running through the grass barefoot
* chasing barn cats and their kittens
* running through corn fields and tomato fields and of course eating the tomatoes and shucking the corn
* sitting around reading books and drinking tea with her
* swinging down hills on big vines hanging from the trees
* the way my sister got so excited when we hit the gravel road to her house. She loved watching the rocks jump up
* building forts in the woods with my cousin
* getting lost in the woods for hours on end
* games around her kitchen table. She was a scrabble master.
* creaky old wood floors
* buying Amish bread and cheese
* her own canned preserves. The peaches were my favorite. And the fact that she wandered down to her cellar to get them.
* all the family coming over for dinner
* hearing her sing above everyone at her small little church, and always old, old hymns
But I think what always sticks out to me the most was that she was never too busy. All of those things above she was more than willing to be part of. She picked raspberries with me and caught bugs with me and shelled peas with me and played scrabble with me. She was never a bystander. She was always a part of the action. She gave what she had with every bit of her heart. In the fall, they'd bring us apples and her homemade jelly. She always brought me missionary biographies when I was little. I ate those up. I often wonder if she isn't to thank for my love of missionaries even now. As I grew up, she would send me scores of prairie books she had finished. I was always a lover of simple historical fiction. My favorite and most treasured item in the world is a necklace she gave me. She never wore jewelry and I'm not sure she much approved of it. But she knew I was girly, so she bought this antique 'A' she found and put it on a chain. I was so touched by that gift because I knew she went out of her comfort zone to buy it. She took the time to know me and what I was like. I wear it all the time, even 10+ years later.
I always felt so genuinely loved by her. I always felt valuable. I knew that when we were together she was mostly concerned with spending time with me. She made me laugh, she made me think, and she always took the time to answer my questions. She taught me to live simply and love fully and never waste a moment to cherish the people I love. She is in so many ways my role model on what a loving, godly woman looks like, and I am so thankful for the hope I have in Christ of seeing her again.
Hand written letters, my favorite necklace, one of our last Christmas' at her house