On this date 30 years ago, my grandmother died, leaving a hole in our family — and in my heart. Even though I was just a little guy when she passed away, I am blessed to have several fond memories of my time with her — due in large part to the fact that she lived with us until the time of her death.
I remember sitting in her yellow rocker-recliner and listening to her read the Bible to me. It was one of those huge hard-cover family bibles, and for the longest time, I truly believed that the big bird pictured in it was actually an airplane!
I remember how she loved to watch The Price is Right and drink ice-cold Tab soda in the glass bottles with yellow stars. To this day, I still think of her every time I see a pink Tab can.
I remember sitting with her to watch Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood and hearing her laugh and talk about how ridiculous it was that he changed clothes twice in 30 minutes’ time. (Remember those shoes and cardigans?)
I think of how much she loved Easter lilies — and good food.
Beyond my own recollections of her, which seem etched in my mind, I am blessed to have others who share their memories as well. Mama Conner was like no one else I’ve ever known. In some ways she was like the “old lady who lived in a shoe,” for she truly had lots of children — 13 to be exact, although a couple died shortly after birth.
However, she is probably better described as a true “Proverbs 31” woman. Even with practically no formal education and even less financial resources, she managed to pretty single-handedly raise kids with lots of love, doing her best to impart to them her faith, which ran as deep as the ocean. Now just 30 years later, all but one of her children have passed on as well. I can’t help but think that there have been many joyful reunions in a place called Heaven — a place that was as real to her on earth as it is today. For Mama Conner, faith wasn’t about seeing at all; it was about “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1). In fact, if I had a vote, I wouldn’t hesitate to add her to the “Faith Hall of Fame.”
Mama Conner was a success by any measure of the word. Honest. Dependable. Humble. Plainspoken. Kind. Faithful. Those are just a few of the words that others frequently use to describe her.
On this 30th anniversary of her death, I can’t help but wonder what she would think of me. I wonder if I’m anything at all like her.
I know how she’d love to hear me play the piano. . . how she’d love to tickle my kids and think of clever nicknames for them. . . how she’d love to pray for them day and night. . . how she’d love to share a meal with my family.
She’d definitely think I spend too much money, eat too healthy, and live too busy a lifestyle. But apart from a few negative remarks, which would be much more a product of generational differences than genuine discontent, I know she’d be pleased — even proud — of me.
I’d like to think that she could see just what I do, and who I am, and what I’ve become in 30 years’ time. Who knows. . . maybe just for today, she can.