Angels in our Lives: Giggling Grandma

smell rosesI thought I’d do a series on inspirational people who have overcome trials—or are enduring them day to day—with a smile on their face.  These ANGELS make life easier for us.  Instead of griping about their trials or thorns in their flesh, they reach out to others to lift them up to God.  That’s why they’re angels.

Today’s angel is my Grandma.  When I was little, I took my grandma for granted; I didn’t realize then that she was an angel.  When we’d visit, I’d quickly kiss her, then find my cousins and dash off to the mountain to climb or go play in the barn.  The adults sat inside and visited…boring.

I got hurt a lot as a kid—scraped knees, elbows, burnt fingers from exploding cap guns, a bee sting to my toe.  It didn’t matter how I got hurt, grandma would always giggle as she made me better.  It baffled me as a kid.  Why did she think it was funny when I got hurt?

It wasn’t until I was a mom that I realized what she was doing.  Acting all upset or overly concerned wouldn’t have helped me back when I thought I was dying.  She laughed to ease my tension and make me realize that life wasn’t over.  Everything was going to be all right.

genevieve-horatio cherriesThat was her philosophy.  Grandma didn’t have a life of ease.  She was never blessed with riches.  Her and Grandpa worked hard to scrape by in life…but I never met two happier people.  Maybe it was because grandma knew how to smell the roses and count her true blessings.  Her dry witty sense of humor didn’t hurt either…nor her smile that never stopped.

Grandma lived with chronic pain for the last 45-50 years of her life.  From her early 50’s on, she was plagued with intense headaches that wouldn’t go away—EVER.  Now when you hurt, it’s easy to pull inward and be grumpy.  It’s easy to be bitter and wish you were well.  We almost feel justified in snapping at others that aren’t in pain, feeling they deserve some of our misery…right?

Wrong.

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Grandma was the angel that taught me that no matter how miserable you may feel, you can still smile and reach out to others.  Her head hurt severely, but when I visited her, she’d always greet me with a smile.  I’d ask, “Are your headaches gone?”

She’d smile and say, “No, they’re never gone.  But I’m fine.  How are you?”  And she’d turn the conversation to happier topics.  She’d take me out in her garden and show me her flowers and vegetables, with a hoe in her hand for balance, as we walked and talked.

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She loved gardening.  I think that’s what helped her live so long (to age 97)…that, and smiling.  Clear up to the end, Grandma wore a smile on her face.  The last couple years of her life she dealt with excruciating pain and her headaches worsened…but still, she threw out smiles like they were candy.

When I was there for a week with my sister (near the end when grandma needed 24/7 assistance), she still insisted on going to church.   And grandma was the angel that had to greet EVERYONE that came in the door.  Mrs. Social Butterfly.  As I watched her greet everyone with that big smile of hers, I saw each person’s face light up with joy.  My angel grandma lifted them and made them feel better about their day…their self…their life.  That’s how she made me feel.

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When I’d help her into bed each night, she’d thank me profusely, then kiss me and tell me in her scratchy voice that I was HER angel.  It made me want to cry…but I laughed instead.  I’d learned that lesson from her as a kid.  Laughing helps you know everything will be all right.

The angels in our life have the ability to make us feel like we are the most important person ever—that we are the most loved—that we bring them the most joy.  The funny thing is, they make EVERYONE feel that way.  But it doesn’t make you jealous.  You feel even better, because you realize you really are the most important person in their life—that you are the most loved…and so is the next person…and the next person.

The love of an angel is never diminished when it is given away.  It is magnified.

Genevieve's House 036Angels uplift and help us sense the spark of divinity within ourselves.  Because of the way they touch us, our love is increased and we become angels too.  That’s just how angels work.

You can’t meet an angel and not be changed.  Their goodness and love seep deep within you (whether you’re aware of it or not).  Sometimes we might be angels like Clarence on It’s a Wonderful Life, but it doesn’t matter.  The point is…we are divine.  We will touch and influence those around us and become more radiant in our spirits the more we focus on heaven…and less on earth.

You don’t have to have riches or perfect health to be an angel.  Usually, the best angels are the ones who keep doing God’s work even in the midst of their own suffering…like my smiling, giggling Grandma…because they know what’s next.  Eternity.

Char

19 thoughts on “Angels in our Lives: Giggling Grandma

  1. Wow! She sounds like an amazing lady. How inspirational to have had someone that selfless in your life. I know there are those with trials who use those trials to try to inspire others but in my life it is the ones who aren’t constantly drawing everyone’s attention to their trials but continue on with a saintlike glow about them that is truly inspiring. As always I love your blog!

    • I agree about those many people out there who go through life with ‘saintlike glow’ and most people never know about their challenges because they never draw attention to them. Truly angels! Thank goodness for people like that. Everyone has their own set of trials to endure–it’s just how we handle them that makes all the difference in our personal progress.

    • Thanks, Carrie. I never tired of taking pictures of my grandma’s gardens. Weeds, to her, were flowers growing up in her strawberry patch. Flowers took over everything (I guess when you’ve gardened for 60 plus years on the same acreage, you get more than just thistle, like I do). Even though we can’t go back in time to spend another day with those we love, we can cherish the memories we do have…and determine to make good memories for those coming after us. That’s the power of angels, right!

  2. Oh how I miss Grandma! When I need to be cheered up, I just think back to that wonderful week we three got to spend together. Grandma continues to inspire and uplift me, even now. Thanks for the great memories written down so beautifully. I nominate you as the family historian!

    • I thought you, of anyone, would appreciate this post, sis. I, too, miss Grandma and think fondly of those last times we were able to be with and take care of her. Best experience of my life. It still feels like she’s here when I think of her; I guess that’s the magic of angels…they are with you forever. And I accept your nomination, as long as somebody (hm, hm…you) tells me what to do. I’m too scatterbrained to think of things in any organized manner.

  3. I wish I could have known my grandmothers better. But both were emotionally distant. Even though my mother’s mother lived with us for several years, she didn’t consider me and my siblings her “real” grandchilden. In her culture, traditionally a daughter’s children “belong” to the husband’s family. Your son’s children are your grandchildren.

    I’m glad you could see and experience firsthand what a wonderful person your grandmother was!

    • What culture was that? That is sad to limit who your ‘real’ grandchildren could be. Yes, I know I am lucky to have known my grandma so closely. I’ve been bonded to her since she wrote her life history and had me type it up so it could be printed out for all her posterity. That’s when I came to really know her and realize how similar we really were. She’s been my ‘bosom friend’ (like Ann of Green Gables would say) ever since.

      • She was Greek and Bohemian, but raised in Serbia. And my grandfather was Serbian. So it came from both sides of her family. Until recent times, it’s actually quite common to make those distinctions in much of the world. And it still is found in more rural and traditional communities. (My anthropology degrees are speaking here 😉 )

  4. Thank you for this! My great grandmother was my special someone… My hero, my mom and my best friend all in one. She has been passed away for many years now, but she is still right beside me. Such a beautiful post!

    • Glad to hear about your angel! Even though my Grandma’s been gone for 2 years, I still feel so close to her…like she’s very near. It’s probably the same for you and your great grandmother.

  5. That was a great tribute to a great woman!!! I remember walking with her and she would be grimacing from the pain, but if a car went by she would always plaster on a smile just in case she knew them. She was truly an AMAZING angel!!!

  6. What a wonderful woman – your grandmother! Makes me miss my grandmother, she lives thousands of miles away. My grandmother is a quiet, unassuming woman who also always has a smile, even though her life has been hard. Her quiet resilience is what i admire & love most about her…

  7. She was the best and I too miss her terribly, but for some reason, I too feel like she is still here. I was just telling Mom that a few weeks ago. We were talking about how long grandpa and the other grandma and grandpa had been gone and then I realized Grandma had been gone for almost 2 years already. I think I’m in denial, because I think my mind still believes she’s still sitting in her house surrounded by her beautiful gardens and that I can stop in and see her whenever I pass through. It’s not till I’m actually passing through that I realize I don’t need to take the exit to her house. But for some reason, her being gone just isn’t all the way real to me. She was such a beautiful soul who truly and deeply touched all who got to know her or meet her in this life. I aspire to be more like her in every way!

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