Adopt-a-Grandma

“Faith which first lived in your grandmother Eunice”

The Bible doesn’t talk about grandmother’s. Except for the mention of Timothy’s grandmother by Paul in his letter to the young pastor, the word isn’t even used in the Old Testament. Generations are listed and Matthew gives credence to several outstanding women in his lineage of the Savior. This verse then has become quite a thematic focus. Praise God it is about the two women’s faith!

Generational socialization was so normal during the times of Bible writings that it has only been a recent issue. In years past the ability to move or travel wasn’t as simple. Therefore many cultures still hold to generational homes. Homes in which the grandparents do much of the child care.

Growing children that understand respect is quite simple when grandfather takes charge of an errant boy. The story of John Quincy Adams is told frequently of his schooling days. The stubborn child refused to go to school. The elder Henry Adams quietly left his office and grabbed the young boy’s hand. He then led his defiant grandchild for a one and half mile walk never releasing his hand until the child was safely seated in his chair in the schoolroom. The embarrassed Johnny never defied his grandfather again. This respect of elders took the young man into a career as the most successful statesman in United Sates history.

My favorite story from my children’s youth is when an elderly woman in a wheelchair wanted to hold Yolanda’s little 1/16 violin. The lady’s shaking fingers left may little five year olds eyes wide in fear. I know she was thinking “She is going to drop my violin, I’ve never dropped my violin!” I softly told the wide eyed daughter, “I won’t let her drop it.” The woman’s face lit up like a Christmas tree as she plucked out “Twinkle, twinkle” for Yolanda. It was a lesson in respect and honor we have all never forgotten.

The many stories of grandmother’s almost always talk about gardens. Many of them give like they have the bank of a queen. The tulips, lilies, dahlias, and irises that we all enjoy are surely because someone’s grandma shared the bulbs with a dear one.

My first adopted grandma was Lillian. She was nearly at the end of my paper route and the funniest, skinniest 80 year old I had ever known. She taught me more than I can recall in one writing. The next adopted Grandma was when we lived in Minnesota. Grandma Dorothy was my baby “burpee” grandma in the church nursery. I planned my little babies feeding times to be during the sermon so that I could play piano for the worship service. grandma Dorothy then was baton passed. There were many times she changed diapers before I picked up baby again so that our visiting time after church was enjoyable.

While I learned to cook for my growing family, I called my own grandmother frequently to ask about what spices to use. She taught me so much about flavors and meats. But my adopted kitchen cook was Idell. If I missed my mother’s cooking, I could count on Idell to make me something that made me feel better. Her chicken noodle soup and summertime lemonade was amazing.

Children aren’t cookies. And shouldn’t be molded like dough to be sliced with cutters and popped out of the oven 12 or 13 minutes (years) later all wearing the same frosting. Why we opted out of cookie cutter education and decided to homeschool was a long year by year process. Each year we made the choice, weighing all the options. But Grandma Eleanor in Iowa was the most positive adopted Grandma we had. Though for such a short time, she prompted me to write a song when we knew her. “Always Wanted a Grandma” is about the power of the aged to bless young lives. The covenant all blessings of years ago can return in the audible blessings of these special people. The power of their words is often greater than those of our own parents.

We wanted to give our children lots of opportunities with many different age groups. I  think it worked. The most important aspect of their training up was probably the church. How the church today has bought into generation gap appeal. It breaks my heart to imagine the inner “rebellious” of our youth insisting on church experience that does not involve the respect of the elderly. From the music, to the locations, to the atmosphere, the new church movement is so entertainment focused and lacks the loving touch of adopted grandmother’s. If only those youth understood how much grandma labors in prayer for her dear loved ones.

Building bridges with a community of various ages gives a child the ability to relate to all ages. The dear adopted grandmother that I love so now is Ella. She is so special. So loving. I can’t imagine our lives without her prayers. She and her husband adopted “our girls” early on in the musical career. Their hugs have always been a sought out affair.

Having these people who love-no-matter-what are the foundation of beautiful young people. Their mentor ship and guidance should be treasured like the silver that their crowns are adorned with.

My friend Lillian was the one who taught me resourcefulness. She used old socks and sweaters to make hundreds of balls of yarn. Then she filled a popcorn tin and began making a rug. Maybe that’s why I love homemade rugs.

Today as I think of the legacy of grandmothers and the song by Twila Paris, “Same Girl” my heart is burdened by the ailing body of another one of my adopted grandmother’s. Accepting failure and yet blessing our Lord is one of the life lessons’s best learned by the aged. Their body might grieve them, but their sweet demeanor and loving words echo in our hearts forever.

–In loving memory of Eileen. Though she seemed more like my piano teacher than my grandmother (I always got nervous if I knew she was listening), may her memory be a treasure to all those who knew her.

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