“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it, is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”
– William Arthur Ward
Ok, I’m going to take a break from talking about running for a second. (Don’t get comfortable with that or anything. I just started my 21-week training plan for my first full marathon in April, so you can bet your sweet dimpled booty that I’ll be talking that thing to DEATH soon enough…) But, for now, I have something else I want to tell you about.
Now, in some of my previous blogs, I have told you about my sweet MawMaw, my mother’s mother, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s. But the one I want to tell you about now is my father’s mother. I have something to show you about her that I think you might like. (I know I do.)
Well. Here she is.
That’s my little grandma in a picture that was taken in July of this year on her 83rd birthday. Now, don’t forget that number: 83. Because that’s the part that is going to be important to the story I’m going to tell you. But first, let me tell me you a little bit about this woman.
If anyone were to ever ask me to describe my grandma using only one word, the first word that would come to mind is: “feisty.” Whew, let me tell ya. There is NO stopping her. She will tell you what she thinks and that’s just all there is to it. For instance, a conversation I had with her yesterday:
Her: Your hair doesn’t look good straight. It doesn’t suit you.
Me: You’re the only one who says that, Grandma. Everyone else says it looks better straight.
Her: People lie.
Her: They were just trying to be nice to you. I’m not.
(Incidentally, you’ll notice my hair is curly in the picture above, as it usually is when I go visit her because I know her thoughts on the subject. Yesterday, however, I was feeling unusually brave. Bad idea.)
Oh, and how about this for an example? My grandma has been having some snake issues around her house. Little does she know, I’m sure even the snakes have passed the word amongst themselves not to mess with her…but nevertheless, she holds tight to her steadfast fear of the slithery little boogers. So, while we were all gathered at her house after church yesterday, my dad found a live snake in her yard. He picked it up (he’s weird about stuff like that – not scared of them at all), and proceeded to somewhat terrorize us with it for a while. (Well, everyone except my daughter Kelly, who managed to fall in love with the stupid thing.) Well, Grandma hears tell of what’s going on and comes flying out of the house wielding her hoe that she keeps handy for just this very purpose. Yes, you read that right. All 110-pounds soaking wet of my granny came flying out of the house with her handy hoe held high over her head…ordering my dad to drop the snake immediately. He protested (though not for long – he’s known her even longer than I have and knows better than to try to argue) and finally, defeated, dropped his little buddy on the ground to meet his fate. Here’s a little math for ya. Grandma + Hoe = Bye Bye Snake. She hoed (is that a verb?) the little guy until his grandpa felt it. (And then had to make amends to little Kelly who just lost her new ‘pet’ at the hands of Granny. Well, I wouldn’t exactly call it amends, per se….”If you had to live here, you’d be taking a hoe to the nasty little thing too, young lady…” That’s an apology, right?)
Whew. And those were just examples from yesterday alone. Catch my drift?
But let me tell you about something else about yesterday. And about my grandma. Remember how I told you to remember that number – 83? Well, I’m going to tell you why.
Have you heard of Operation Christmas Child sponsored by Samaritan’s Purse? To put it simply, this organization encourages people to put together a shoebox filled with gifts for children. They then send these shoeboxes to children in over 130 other countries who might not receive anything at Christmas time. This is a Christian-based organization that provides not only the gifts, but also pamphlets about Christ. Now, I am fully aware that there are people of many different beliefs that read my blog, but regardless of where you stand on that kind of thing, you have to admit this is a pretty cool thing to do, right? Anything that benefits a kid is A-OK in my book. And as for my grandma? Well, it’s pretty ok in her book too. In fact, it’s so ok, that she participates every single year. And by participates, I mean, PARTICIPATES. This little spitfire of a woman decided years ago that each Christmas she was going to prepare a box per year of her age. So, this year? You guessed it. She prepared 83 boxes to ship off to Samaritan’s Purse.
Eighty-three. Wow. Just…wow.
She starts working on them at the beginning of the year and has them ready for pickup in mid-November. My dad and I helped her bag them up this year to haul out to the front porch to await the church member who would be dropping by later in the week to load them up. After much begging and coaxing from me, I finally convinced her to let me take a picture of her surrounded by her 10 full large black bags filled to the brim with toys for children that she will never even see open them. I told her that I wanted to tell the story about her on my blog – to show people what she does every year and give her some credit for it. She responded, “I don’t do it for credit. Don’t show my picture to people, it might look like I’m bragging, and that’s not what I do this for.”
Well, Grandma, I know that. (And, most importantly, those kids know that.) But no one said that I couldn’t brag on you, now did they?
Inside that feisty, tough exterior lies a heart of gold. I am so proud to say that this woman has shaped much of who I am and what I believe. Now, granted, we don’t always see eye to eye on things (and that is probably the understatement of the year…), but it sure is nice to know that someone with this kind of generous, strong-willed heart had a lot to do with making me who I am today. If I’m even half the woman she is, I’ll be very proud of the life I’ve lived. As I hope she is.
And, just for the record, I did finally get her permission to write this. (Well, sort of. I mean, she didn’t come after me with the hoe when I insisted that I was going to do it anyway, so I guess that’s “permission,” right?) Like I told her, it’s not bragging if: 1) someone else is doing it, and 2) it inspires others. And that #2 one is the kicker. Think about the warm feeling it gives you when you hear about other people doing something nice for each other. It gives you a little boost – makes you believe in the kindness of our fellow man again and, possibly even inspires you to do the same. If her intention was to help someone – then I think writing this blog about her will do just that…and then some. Watching what she has done has helped me, I know that. And maybe reading this might just help you, too. Hey, you just never know.
So, how about it? Does something come to mind that you can do to help someone? Even if it’s just a small little thing that you think won’t even matter? Well, guess what. It will matter. Go do it. And if you want to keep it a secret, that’s fine. Noble even. But if it happens that someone wants to show you off, let them. Only good will come of it. I promise. You may not have a loud-mouth granddaughter with a public blog, mind you. I get that. But I’m sure there’s someone out there that is going to be inspired by what you’ve done, and is going to want to show you off. And that, my friends, is a beautiful thing.
Let’s keep taking care of each other, ok?
“For it is in giving that we receive.”
– Francis of Assisi