January 1, 2011. Saturday afternoon. Many people were reviewing their New Year's resolutions. My sweet Grandma, Rhoda Showalter, was beginning her "real life" in her new home. She passed from death to life. She traded a worn out body for a new one. She was ninety years old in this life. I find myself wondering what she looks like now.
Following is the tribute that a cousin and my sister read at her funeral. I wrote it after hearing stories and memories of cousins both near and far.
We cousins gathered at the front of the church and stood together for the reading.
Each of us standing here together today have at least one thing in common: Rhoda Showalter was our Grandma. As cousins we’ve compiled numerous memories and thoughts about who Grandma was and the place she occupies in our hearts.
We knew prayer was an active part of Grandma’s life. She prayed for us and she prayed with us. When we’d ask Grandma how she was, she’d reply “The Lord is faithful” or “God is so good.” She was always interested in us and didn’t want general information. She wanted to know the details! There were always hugs and kisses when you arrived and hugs and kisses when you left.
We remember songs sung at bedtime and countless stories read aloud. Walks to the garden. Picking up sticks in the front yard. Picking tea. The horse swing in the basement. Pink “Grandma candies” left under pillows at nap time (to be eaten ONLY after the nap was finished).
Grandma’s roses carefully arranged in a beautiful vase with asparagus ferns. Sledding on Grandpa and Grandma’s big hill whenever there was enough snow to cover the ground. Playing in the creek. All the little empty jars that Grandma kept under the kitchen sink, but gladly shared with us for insects, creek creatures and other treasures. Grandma’s toy collection.
And Grandma’s food: Warm gingerbread with lemon sauce and whipped cream. Raisin filled cookies. Citrus mint tea. Sweet potato casserole. Pulling taffy. Cutting off corn on the cob. Shelling lima beans. Canning pears.
Grandma was once seen wearing a grandson’s basketball shoes around the house. Just because. And Grandma let you put lots of butter on your bread. She’d drizzle the homemade whole wheat bread with honey and cut it up into little squares so you could eat it with a fork. She’d give you apple slices and raisins if you were hungry between meals.
Grandma was genuine. There was nothing hypocritical about her.
She was gracious. She may have felt “out of her element” at times, but you’d never know it.
Grandma was a mentor. She mentored others, but she also mentored us.
We could each stand and talk for hours of the ways that Grandma has influenced our individual walks with the Lord, but the essence of each story would be the same. She followed Jesus and wanted the same for each of us.
To borrow the words of C.S. Lewis, Grandma’s term is ended: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning! For Grandma this is only the beginning of the real story. All her life in this world was only the cover and the title page: now at last she is beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which none of us has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.