Thursday, October 5, 2017

Remembrances: Our Grandmother, Helen Marie Jones Swann

Warm, summer sun, shine brightly here. Warm, summer wind, blow softly here.

When I visited Grandmother several months ago, when she was in the middle of a battle with the Anxious, I said to her, "I would take it away if I could." She thought for a minute and then replied, "but if you took it away, then nothing would be the same."

The profoundness of that statement has stuck with me. Even in the midst of fear and even though she was where she was in life, her wisdom shined brightly and she taught me something and comforted me.

There is something worthwhile in the burden. There is value in shared wisdom. There is strength that is passed on from generation to generation.

Even in the midst of our grief today, we can be comforted by our love-filled memories. Our grief is heavy because our love for each other is BIG.

Considering these thoughts and considering who she was--wise and literary--it should have come as no surprise to us when she started talking about having a baby a couple of weeks ago.
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Indeed, she birthed a lot in this world. She shared her gifts of love even when she didn't realize, even when we didn't realize what she was doing.

Her house was a sanctuary. Growing up, when the days and months and years were longer, as soon as my family and I arrived from Georgia, I would run upstairs and usually find her in the kitchen. After saying hello, “Hey Hon,” she would say, I'd then take a strawberry hard candy from the cabinet and pick up the phone. Four long rotary digits later, I told my cousins to come over and play.

And we would paint our nails or play Rook at the round kitchen table or play office or dress-up in the basement, making good use of an old letterman jacket and several old prom dresses.

On occasion, perhaps Grandmother agreed to this when she needed it a little quieter, we would pack supplies and take the seemingly half-day trek through the pasture to the river. Anne Marie would lead us in song, All the leaves are brown…, and around cow patties and our adventures would always be grand.

At night, Grandmother would tuck us all into the king-sized bed and we would giggle until sleep won. And in the morning, particularly if Tripp were in town, she would make the best pancakes--crispy, buttery edges, no need for syrup--and drink frozen milk or Tang. Sugar used to be kinder...

She traveled to recitals and ballgames, edited our college papers, taught us to play Rook--never Bridge--we would never have won anyhow, and compared literary notes about Moby Dick.

She made us mashed potatoes, Hello Dolly and chocolate pies, and slipped us cash every now and then. She always told us how proud she was of us.

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She filmed documentary-length video tapes of family gatherings, as well as our travels around the majority of the United States.

She took us to movies and McDonalds and taught us to count our blessings and our pennies.

She taught us to be generous. She showed us how to reuse. She modeled Christian faithfulness.

Dear Grandmother, enjoy fully your reunion. Rest and rejoice, assured that we, your sons and daughters, sisters and brothers, neighbors and friends--rest assured that we will take care of this thing you have birthed. We will love and we will give and we will be faithful followers.

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