It's been a few days now, and I have had a bit of time to think through my Grandma's passing and reflect on her life. Hers was truly a life well-lived. I want to share a few of my memories of Grandma and honor her life and her Lord.
I was blessed to have quite a close relationship with my Grandma. She was only 53 when I was born, so throughout my growing up years she was still quite young, active, and involved in my life. She and my grandpa lived a short 3.5 hour drive from our family, and so I can remember making many trips to their house--for Christmas celebrations, for visits in the summertime, and especially when I would drive back and forth to college, Grandpa and Grandma's house was right on the way. Grandpa and Grandma made an effort to attend lots of my special events growing up--they were there for some of my recitals, the Sound of Music my senior year of high school, my eighth grade and high school graduation, and many more.
I can remember so many times visiting Grandpa and Grandma and getting up early on a summer morning. I would sneak downstairs, crawl into bed with Grandpa and listen to him tell stories about his adventures on the Gunflint Trail while the aroma of frying bacon would drift into the room. Then after breakfast we'd help Grandma wash the dishes and then go outside to play croquet on the lawn or help Grandma in the garden. Grandpa and Grandma lived on a country road and had a lake right across the road complete with a little beach facing their home. It was a beautiful, peaceful place that I loved to visit!
My Grandma was always a welcoming, friendly person. She was faithful in praying for people, and faithful in sending cards and letters to those whom she cared about--which was a lot of people! She would always underline the key words or phrases in the card--a funny trait that I looked for when she'd send me a card. She took very seriously her responsibility to pray for her family. I always knew that she was praying for me, praying for me by name each day.
Now it is amazing to see the fruits of Grandma's prayers. She has three children, all of whom are walking with the Lord, married Christian spouses, and taught their children about the Lord. She has eleven grandchildren, two of whom have already gone to be with the Lord (my brother Dan and my cousin Keri Joy who died tragically at 14 months), and the rest of whom are walking with the Lord. Of those who are married, all married Christian spouses and have children (Grandma's Great-grandchildren) who are now being taught to walk with the Lord. That is quite a legacy! I realize more and more as I grow older how rare and special that is!
My Grandma's influence shaped our family in significant ways. One particular way was through a family tradition that she and my Grandpa started way back in the late 60s. They invited their children (my Dad, my aunt Judy, and my Uncle John) and their spouses to spend a week "Up North" Minnesota in a lakeside cabin. This tradition continued as everyone started having children, and the children started growing up. So as I grew up, it was a given that we would spend the last week of July/first week of August (depending on the year) from Saturday to Saturday at "Lake George," a resort on the lake outside Park Rapids, Minnesota. We always stayed in the same place and did the same things--fished, swam, played sand volleyball, had a bonfire on Monday night, had a family worship service, tried to listen to the Twins on a static-y radio, took naps, read books, watched Grandpa play horseshoes, ate Grandma's yummy cooking, played games, and just generally had a great time. The cousins loved hanging out together, and we all enjoyed eating the bucket of chocolate chip cookies and bucket of chex mix that Grandma made for every cabin. Going "Up North" was a huge part of my growing up years; a tradition that shaped me and our family in great ways.
Now I realize that going up north for a week wasn't the easiest way to have a vacation, especially for my mom and Grandma who had to plan and prepare all the food and do all the packing for the week. But Grandma was immensely organized and had a list that she maintained from year to year. I think basically my Grandpa made sure the fishing tackle was packed and Grandma did everything else! We loved Grandma for it!Grandma had a real, living, vibrant faith, and it spilled over to people around her. Her Bible was well-worn. For her funeral, my Aunt Judy had found a paper where Grandma wrote out some of her wishes. One of the hymns she requested was "Blessed Assurance." I think it sums up well what was most important to Grandma and her hope for eternal life.
Blessed Assurance, Jesus is Mine!
O, what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, all the day long!
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, all the day long.
Emma Joy Roelofs
Emma Joy Roelofs
April 29, 1923-May 13, 2009
I loved my Grandma. She will be missed.