I had the sweet privilege of being able to see my Grandma in the weeks before she died. In one of my last visits to see her she gave me a gold charm that was a silhouette of the face of a little girl that had my name and birthday engraved on it. For 29 years, this charm hung on a gold bracelet alongside of the charms of all the other members of our family. My grandma usually wore a selection of bangles on her wrist and often wore the bracelet with her family members on it. My grandma was one of the most intentional people that I know and looking back I appreciate all of the ways that she placed fingerprints all over my life. When we were young my sister and I started charm bracelets of our own that we would shake and dangle just like grandma. Now that she is gone I have made a few observations and noticed some of the “charms” on the bracelet of her life.
The first charm of this bracelet is Intention. As an adult I think of all the times I spent with my grandmother and how it was always convenient that she would “happen” to have certain errands to do on the days that my sister and I would spend with her. She would “conveniently” have to go to the prayer room here at CPC, or need to make deliveries of rosebuds to families of this church that had a new baby, or she would happen to have a leg of lamb in the oven waiting to be served on a beautifully set table for her 9 and 11-year-old granddaughter’s dinner. Other outings would be a little bit farther; to Tiffany’s in San Francisco to pick up a new belt buckle for grandpa, The symphony, the museum, farmers market, thrift store, to her friends house to look at her loom and other places all around town. As a child all of these things just seemed so normal and a part of every day life. As an adult and now mom I can appreciate how she would carefully plan out the times that we would spend with her and how she would carefully think through the things that she would love to instill into the minds and hearts of her grandchildren; everything about the normal consistencies of life. While most people wouldn’t spend the time or see the value of investing the time and effort to take young children to the show, eating at nice restaurants, and shopping at fancy places, she thought it was important and always assumed that our manners were up for it.
The next charm that was consistency. Aside from my own parents my grandma and grandpa were the most consistent people in my life. Every Christmas, Easter, 4th of July, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and most thanksgivings that I can remember were spent with grandma. My grandma was very good at doing things that were not age-appropriate but life appropriate. This was shown through every birthday and Christmas opening the same gold box from Reinharts the housed 2 pearls that were strung annually and carefully counted so that when I graduated high school we would have a complete pearl necklace, because every young lady should have a full string of pearls. Or serving birthday cake on the same platter and waiting to hear if we made a noise when cutting with the knife. For years our presents were wrapped in the same blue paper with little red apples on it. When it wasn’t a special occasion, dessert was always vanilla ice cream with fresh nutmeg on it, her favorite. Fabric Band aids were always in the spice cabinet, she had the same purse, car, hairstyle and décor of her home for as long as I can remember.
Another charm on her life bracelet was perspective. She always saw the big picture. I would hear her talk about hard and busy times when grandpa was in medical school, and various times in life but she never complained and she always sought and kept the big picture in mind. She was quick to discern right from wrong and the best course of action to take. My grandma loved the beautiful and cherished the simple. Her home was always filled with sentimental knickknacks, pictures, books, and souvenirs that she would often look at fondly and be sure that we knew the history and story behind them all. She would often read us poems, show us old movies, read books from her childhood and celebrate holidays of all kinds. She remembered to look back and remember where she came from and the sweet memories of life and was always excited to hear of the excitement that was to come.
One of the strongest charms of her life was Faith. Grandma loved the Lord and was thankful for the life He gave her and was always eager to attribute praise to him for his provision, kindness, and goodness in her life. She loved this church she faithfully attended and served here for years and attended to the behind-the-scenes needs of this church; what a blessing to have an example of what it means to be a pillar of the church. She attended bible study for years and relished the time there.
One of the truest charms in her life was Friendship. Grandma was always happy to have us around and proud to introduce us to her friends; eager to be sure that we knew them and they knew us and how special we all were to her. If you were a friend of my grandma you were a friend for life. She has some of the longest standing friendships of anybody that I know and she cherished all of them, remembering birthdays, taking them to lunch, serving alongside of them, visiting them, traveling with them, crying with them and living life together. She had the e girls, read and react, Church friends, schoolhouse friends, high school friends, grammar school friends, Friends that they have been neighbors with 40 years previous and the list goes on. She was a good friend.
The final charm is Class. Grandma always knew what to say and had a proper response for the situation that she might give grace to those who hear, it wasn’t very often that she was caught off guard but when she was she would respond with the cheerful, “well for heaven sake’s!” She always wanted people to feel included and left people better than she found them in a conversation. She always had a spirit of adventure and enjoyed going places that were off the beaten path, and she where ever life found her she was classy and put together.
This single sweet charm that I now have is a sober reminder that the gold chain that held us all together is now gone and we are now just a bunch of charms on a table. All similar but each distinctly different, but what we do have is the pull and habit of being together and common traits. I pray that as time goes on that all of our families will strive for the closeness and unity that we have all seen so graciously modeled to us and by God’s grace will have bracelets that are full of sweet charms and remembrances of our sweet Grandma.