The (nd) is silent.
Grandma Jo passed away Wednesday morning. The above picture is of her with her sister Beth and her grandson Chris. This is one of my favorite pictures because the amused look she's giving Chris is perfectly typical of her, and the way she is clutching her wine glass and on the edge of laughing captures her in one of her favorite pastimes- enjoying people and their stories. Grandma Jo, as the matriarch of a giant, adoring clan, was always game to hear a good story and ready with one of her own.
A good show of how well you "played with others" here on earth is how you're grieved and celebrated when you die. Let me tell you- the mourning and celebration going on right now is one for the record books. Grandma Jo is precious to her family. Her granddaughters call her for her recipes for scotcheroos, beef stroganoff, white enchiladas and chicken divan. Her grandsons serve her like a queen, seeing that her deck is power washed, her bushes are pruned, her light bulbs are changed. Her name is scattered into the names of her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. No doubt what started as one "Jo" will result in dozens and dozens of "Sara Jo's" or "Johonna's" for generations to come.
I had the distinct pleasure of being welcomed by Grandma Jo into the family as a teenager. Her family grew up around her but the ones she welcomed into the fold later in life got a special treat: Grandma Jo was one of the most welcoming people I've known. She had an uncanny way of making you feel special and welcomed even if she was simultaneously stirring two vats of gravy, warming up rolls and discretely supervising whoever was in charge (Dick) of carving up her perfectly roasted Thanksgiving-on-Friday turkey. Her family knew Grandma Jo's love for them from birth- but I got to suffer the anxiety of meeting my 17 year old boyfriend's grandparents (eek! have to make a good impression!) and then appreciate the blessing of Grandma Jo's gracious, welcoming, loving, inclusive ways. And I am not alone in that- I know every single one of the married-in's (as we are affectionately dubbed in the Hamilton family) knows exactly the relief I felt upon meeting Grandma Jo.
Grandma Jo is in HEAVEN. I don't know how heaven works exactly- like do you get a tour upon entry? Do you meet Jesus in a field? a cloud? his office? I get anxious because I'm the type that likes to know the menu before I pull up at someones house for dinner. But I figure it must be like having a baby. People can tell you how it feels to love a child until they're blue in the face but until you hold that sweet one to your chest and smell them and feel them wriggle for the first time outside your body, there is NO understanding. So I suppose I can trust that heaven is going to rock my world in that wonderful way too.
I want to say this: the certainty that comes in knowing you will spend eternity in heaven starts by asking Jesus WHO he is. Just ask him. It is a starting point and I have it on good authority that if you ask you shall receive. If you seek, you'll find. And if you knock the door will be opened unto you. Just extend the invitation and I believe God will see you through the rest.
This (as I should have expected) turned into a novel of a post. I am 16 minutes late now, so I'll wrap it up with this- something I emailed Grandma's kids & grandkids yesterday:
I remember when I first met Luke he kept talking about his “really cool” grandparents who lived in Roseburg. Our world was small and our idea of an adventure was to take a trip to visit his grandparents. He told me that he & his grandpa would probably go “shoot some shit” (literally go shooting) and I could hang out with his grandma. I distinctly remember what I expected. I expected a soft and round old woman with gray hair and glasses. I expected that she’d be dressed a little dowdy and we’d bake cookies while the men left to go “hunt.” I was expecting your typical sweet and fuzzy grandma. Maybe a little hard of hearing and a little disengaged as grandma’s sometimes are. Obviously, I could not have been more wrong – and I love thinking about the contrast between what I expected and what I got. Grandma would maybe bake cookies with you while the men were away, but she was likely to have a scotch while doing it and then follow it up with some sort of rated R psychological thriller movie rental. She was sharp and witty. She was the kind of grandma that you visited not out of obligation or respect for elders, but because you couldn’t think of a single person more enjoyable to go hang out with. She was so social and personable. I loved her very, very much, I am so grateful to have known her, and I am proud to be part of her family. I was thinking about heaven and picturing your dad standing there and laughing with open arms and calling her “jodie” while she walks into him. What a sweet reunion!