5.09.2007

A Beautiful Life

A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. ... She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: "Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all." Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

Last Wednesday, Josh's grandmother passed away at 92 years of age. She was the matriarch of a large family- she had 11 children, all still living, and, as Josh likes to point out, not a divorce among them- and currently has 141 living direct descendants (not including spouses, who are also 'part of the family'). She has left an immeasurable impact on the world not only on her family but beyond - even after her 90th birthday, she was still quilting for missions organizations (The way she put it was, "God's keeping me around for a reason- I must still have work to do."). We have a wedding quilt we will treasure for the rest of our lives, carefully made for each of her grandchildren, even before they were married, or even thinking about it.

When Josh and I went up for the funeral, we stayed in the farmhouse that she and Josh's grandfather raised the 11 children- with 5 small bedrooms and only one bathroom! They lived on a beautiful farm on the shore of Lake Michigan (literally. I can hear the crashing of the waves of the lake standing outside their house, even with trees blocking the view.) surrounded by beautiful countryside. I was awestruck on my first visit up there. I am still, every time I go to visit. Even when we were up there after Christmas, the dreariness somehow made the countryside more magical. It was odd to go up there and not join Grandma for lunch at Hobo's, the traditional out-of-town guest eating establishment. Coming back from our honeymoon in Northern Wisconsin, we stopped by to see her & ate there for lunch, because she could not make it for the wedding. That was just under a year ago.

"She is now where she wanted to be"
I overheard this, said by a friend of the family, at the visitation. Hundreds (and I'm not talking 100 or 200. I'm talking 400, at least) of people came through to greet the family. This, in an area where the nearest towns have populations of about 2000. The showing is a testament to the impact this woman had over her 92 years, living in the same small area of rural Wisconsin. From everyone's accounts, mine included, she was most revered for her faith in God. She passed this on to her children, and they to their children. The faith legacy is huge. She knew where she was going. She made a point to communicate to all her children the importance of God in their lives. Her wish, she asked one of her sons to share at her funeral, was for us to "be kind to one another". A simple, beautiful, real faith.

"I miss Grandma Watry. I want to play with her."
This, from my four-year-old nephew. Like I said, everyone loves her. He then proceeded to say something about people putting her in a suitcase, which, after thinking about it for a minute, I realized he watched them close her in a big box with handles on it to transport her, and people carried it like a suitcase. I tried to tell him something about us seeing her again, in heaven. How do you tell a four-year-old that? I'll figure that out later, when I have my own four-year-old. His parents did a fine job.

And, after death, life.
There were children running around at the funeral dinner. Babies were brought to the visitation. This woman's memory and impact will not be lost any time soon. Life continues to spring forth from it. I left seeds planted in pots at my desk on Friday, afraid they would dry out by Tuesday, and I would lose even more herbs. I came to work today to find sprouts in all 4 containers- dill, coriander, oregano, sage. Life persists. My balcony garden did OK by itself all weekend as well. My nephew's first birthday is in a week. He never met Grandma Watry, but his father came to the burial because she impacted him, as well. A seed might fall, but it must fall, to bring life. That's our promise, isn't it?

Fun fact: Josh's grandmother was born just days before my grandmother- it was a funny coincidence. My aunts were coming in town to celebrate my grandma's 90th birthday, and I asked Josh if he'd be able to join us for the celebration- he checked with his family & discovered they were going to Wisconsin the very same weekend, to celebrate his grandmother's 90th birthday! It's crazy.

Wisconsin May 07


* I've been very patient in posting this. I had 60% of it written up before I left last week, and finished it Tuesday morning, but waited on pictures. I know it's long, but it's not as long as it needs to be.

1 comment:

Matt said...

My music hero Andrew Peterson's most recent album is centered around embracing death as a part of life, and still finding hope in the process.

A verse from the closing song (More) came to mind when I read your post... you can listen to it and the rest of the album here for free. He really is my hero... check it out.

This is not the end here at this grave
This is just a hole that someone made
Every hole was made to fill
And every heart can feel it still—
Our nature hates a vacuum

This is not the hardest part of all
This is just the seed that has to fall
All our lives we till the ground
Until we lay our sorrows down
And watch the sky for rain

There is more.

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