Father of the fatherless, and protector of widows, is God in His holy habitation. Psalm 68:5
This summer did not go at all how I envisioned. Plans were made. My better half would build furniture pieces for an upcoming art festival, and I would dive into gardening, preserving food, and painting the greenhouse. Nothing went according to those plans.
At the end of May, my grandmother (Nana) had another heart attack. Weeks later she was finally released to a nursing home near me, thirty miles away from her house and the rest of my family.
This was not an accident. It doesn’t matter how busy you are, God will always find a way to put you where He wants you to be. He wanted me at Nana’s side.
Since my grandfather’s death ten years ago, my Nana had become sad and bitter in life, almost unbearably bitter. She had heart disease, and one of its effects was a bad attitude.This coupled with deep loneliness made it hard to be around her.
She lost the man who saved her and five of her children from despair and the person who understood her the most. In her last few years, I would spend time with her in spurts, and then retract because I could only take it for so long. The memories of the ‘good times’ were distant.
One morning I popped in for a quick visit. Having a busy day planned, I expected to just check on her, find her sleeping, and get back home to babysit for a friend of mine. What I found was every light turned on in Nana’s room while she was trying to rest, she was cold with her blankets out of reach, and she was thirsty.
She was alert and thanked God out loud that I was there. I quickly made her comfortable. She begged me not to leave her. I cancelled my plans.
We shared our feelings with each other that day. We recalled better days. Looking back, this was God’s mercy and grace to me. I can hold on to this conversation now. It was my gift. There was a lot that needed to be said between us.
This morning before I sat down to type this, I woke up later than normal, at 7:11; that was the date of my grandfather’s death.
Since Nana’s death I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what she went through taking care of my sick and dying Papa for years. My aunt is reading Nana’s journal entries that she wrote during this time period. What an amazing woman she was, despite her faults.
I think I understood Nana more than the most of the family because I could relate to her in a meaningful way. Some of my life choices have resulted in bitterness and yearning as well, and I could see her pain.
She used to quote scriptures that called to care for the orphans and the widows, and I knew she was right. I had to make an effort to understand her. Only sometimes could I see through the hurt.
It helped that I knew the stories from her difficult past: her mother’s harsh treatment of her, her hard labor on the farm, and raising five of her children on tips as a waitress and the charity of others. The regrets she carried and the people in her life that she lost. My problems pale in comparison.
As a child I witnessed her charity to strangers often: the homeless, immigrants, and a widow that no one could stand to be around.