As the oldest of the 8 grandchildren, I knew Grandma and Grandpa when they were at their youngest, sharpest and able to be at their best. I want to tell you about the greatest women I’ve ever known.
From the time I was little until about 12 years old, I spent 6 days a week with Grandma. On Sundays, we would walk from the church building next door to have lunch with Grandma and Grandpa. Grandma would come home and start breading the whole chicken that she had cut up the day before. I remember helping her dredge the chicken being told to not lick the flour from my hands because of the raw eggs mixture.
After lunch, Grandpa would take a nap and then leave for work since he worked second shift. Once he was gone, Grandma would curl up in her bed with me and sing, “Up on the Housetop,” until I fell asleep. When it was time to get up, Grandma would bring a warm wet wash cloth and gently wash my face, making sure to get the “sleepies” out of my eyes. As I got older my cousin Michael and I would go over and eat the leftover chicken and saltine crackers. Michael always said it was just as good cold as it was hot.
I remember “helping” Grandma clean the church building. My jobs were to empty the trash, put the ribbons in the song books and put the chairs on the tables in the classrooms. It was so much fun. It was during one of those times that I told her I wanted to be a song leader. She told me that as a girl I had a better job. I could keep God’s house clean, I could teach children about God, and I could have the best job ever, serving others when they needed it most. Grandma wasn’t putting down what men do, instead, she was building up my esteem for the role that God designed for me.
As a little girl, I went everywhere with Grandma. I remember going to the grocery store every Friday and learning the value of money. She told me Grandpa went to work to do what God Designed for him to do, which is provide for his family to eat. She told me that to spend the money frivolously is to waste what God gave them, and if you do that He may not provide like that again.
Grandma and Grandpa loved baseball. They took me to several Redbirds games. I was taught how to keep score, sing with the organ player, and I met the players. I thought they were celebrities, but Grandma said that celebrities were people just like me. They would love to meet me. She told me that everyone wants to feel like their live and what they do matters.
I remember Thanksgivings. I asked Grandma why does everyone have to come, as we really filled the house to the point of being over crowded. She told me that having her house full made her heart full. It reminded her of the blessings and to be thankful because you never know when it will be the last.
I remember my first fight with Stephen. I called Grandma telling her how much of a jerk he was, how I deserved better, how I didn’t know if I could stay married to him. She listened quietly and when she spoke it was the wisdom of the ages. She told me that I should hold it to his account the same way I wanted God to hold it to mine. She told me that I was just as much of a sinner as he was and the only I didn’t deserve was God’s grace, love, and mercy. She told me that throwing away my marriage just because it was broke right now, would be me telling God that His blessings weren’t good enough for me, which would make me better than God and she knew me better than to know I was better than my Creator. When I asked her how she put with up Grandpa, she told me that she was raised not to toss something if it was broken, but to fix it. You only toss things that are dead.
I learned unconditional love from my Grandma. No matter what stupid thing I said or did, I knew she would always love me. I could believe in God’s love because of her love for me and my family. Her love never failed, never gave up on me.
And finally, she was the one who gave me the courage to walk up the aisle to become baptized. It was a Tuesday after school. I was going to leave for a trip to Washington D. C. in 2 weeks, and I was afraid to fly. I told Grandma I was afraid of the plane going down and dying. I was telling her this from the door way where the kitchen meets the living room. She walked over to me, put her hands on my shoulders and said the words that changed my life forever. She told me, “if you are in Christ if you are one of His, if you lay all your faith, your trust and yes even you life in His hands, Sammy, you will NEVER NEVER fear dying. You will be given a hope, a peace and most importantly a promise, you will be with God and those who have gone before.” The next night, when the invitation was given, I went forward and was baptized and my life was never the same.
There were many more things Grandma gave to me, far to many to stand here and tell you all, but the most important one, the one I want us all to have and that is the HOPE to see her again one day. It is with that hope, wonderful memories, a deep love and a grateful heart that I am saying good bye to my Grandma, my best friend, my mentor, Wanda Lucille Minton.