April 28, 2011

Two full lives

In the last post, I talked (and talked and talked) about some of the highs of April.

I don't want to be a Debbie Downer but I really want to share the lows of the past month as a tribute to two people I love and now miss.

Two of Joe's grandparents passed away within a few weeks of each other. His family was very blessed to have all four of his grandparents live full lives well into their eighties but that doesn't soothe the sting of losing someone you dearly love.

Joe's Grandma Collins (his mom's mom) passed away earlier this month. I am so happy that I got to know her before her health declined. 

Years ago, I tried to call her Mrs. Collins but she just patted my leg, told me I was a pretty girl and asked me to call her Grandma. She was a sassy lady who always dressed smart and loved to match her jewelry, jackets and shoes. She had a rich, loud laugh that always made me feel comfortable because how can you not love someone who clearly loves life? She lived her life so that you always knew she loved Jesus, her husband and family, and her friends very much.

For spring break during my sophomore year in college, I traveled with Joe and one of his brothers down to their grandparents' winter home. Among so many things I remember from that trip, I'll always remember how she made homemade biscuits from scratch every morning while we were there. 

Those biscuits aren't a special memory because they were super delicious (even though they totally were), but because she got up early to make a big breakfast for us every morning just because that's how she showed her love. She loved caring for her family and that was always very apparent.

When you were around her, she just wanted you to have a good time which often meant eating a lot of homemade food and playing cards. If that last statement didn't make it perfectly clear, Grandma Collins was my kind of woman.

Last week, Grandpa Mayes (Joe's dad's dad) passed away. He called every male in his family, "Son," with his soft, southern voice. Every Christmas, he requested that the family sing "Jingle Bells" and his face lit up as all 60 of his loved ones belted it out. When he prayed, you knew he was talking passionately to a God whom he dearly loved and a God who deeply loved him back

In a funny twist of fate, my mom's family grew up next door to Joe's family. Joe and I didn't meet until college but I knew most of his cousins, aunts and uncles before I met him. This family relationship has always been very special to me.

Every time I saw Grandpa Mayes, he would ask how my aunts and uncles were doing and asked me to tell them hi. My mom can remember Grandpa Mayes reading his Bible on his front porch. He was the first person she knew who really read to the Bible, cover to cover, over and over again. When my uncle was severely injured in Vietnam, Grandpa Mayes and Joe's dad (a teenager then) came over to my grandparents' house to pray with them.

I've heard that story many times because that act of faith left a deep impression on my mom and her siblings but I'm crying now after typing it out because that's how Grandpa Mayes's faith was: if you knew that man, then his faith made a deep impression on you.

Losing Grandma Collins and Grandpa Mayes was hard for me because I know that they prayed for me often. Grandma Collins told me that she loved praying for her family and Grandpa Mayes would frequently tell all of his grandkids that he prayed for us by name every day. 

That might sound selfish but I just mean that really hurts to lose people who loved me very much, enough to lift me up daily before God. I just mean that I really loved both of them.

I've told Madeline this many times over the last few weeks and I really want to believe my own words. "We're sad because we miss them but we're happy because they are with Jesus."

"And, Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
the clouds be rolled back as a scroll.
The trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend.
Even so, it is well with my soul."


Amy K said...

Katie, this is a beautiful tribute. I will enjoy meeting these wonderful people in heaven someday. I am so sorry for your loss. All of the Mayes' are in our prayers!

Jen said...

I meant to tell you last week when I saw you a zillion times that this was beautiful and made me cry all over again.