There are no accidents, as in, I do believe that God works in our lives. We can refer to the God power in any number of ways, but to me, it is undeniably real. I believe people are brought into our lives because we consciously or subconsciously need them; in ways we may not even expect. One experience for me was with the least expected person, my then-husband’s grandmother, Jean.
Jean, better known as “Grandma Pie”, was born in Washington in 1912, and was one of the most genuine, independent, kind and straightforward women I had met. She could whip up a pie (thus the name “grandma pie”), as easily as making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. My own grandmother, while she had a wonderful and unexpected impact on my life, found comfort in a couple of “snorts” of sherry from a brown paper bag. Don’t get me wrong, I truly loved my grandmother, but Jean was somewhat of an enigma to me, since I had already imprinted on what a grandmother was—and it wasn’t related to the Ward Cleaver family.
I became very close to Jean over the ten years prior to her passing in 1992. She reminded me of the importance of your family. My own family, in many ways, had unintentionally chosen a road of self-destruction when I was 13 years old. The landslide began with my mom’s diagnosis of terminal cancer. The repercussions of her illness were much akin to the sinking of the Titanic, as she was the core of our family.
My early life was full of love, laughter and most of all security. My parents were openly affectionate and had a very playful and close relationship. Unfortunately though, they were unprepared to handle the overwhelming emotional impact related to a terminal illness. Outside support systems to help families in trauma were close to non-existent in the early 1970’s. So, needless to say, by 22, my desire for a close family had been buried deep in my heart, for a very long time.
To know Jean, she was a modern woman, a “Rosie the Riveter”, with ol’ fashion family values. Her energy was spent close to her family. She would bring everyone together with her meat-and-potato style of cooking, homemade biscuits, and of course, pie. In one afternoon, she could sew a smock for her granddaughter and deliver a pie to her son. But she was not only a doer, but a listener. Jean’s advice was usually simple and derived from the Golden Rule. I think that philosophy tends to cover a wide range of issues.
A month shy of Jean’s 80th birthday she passed away. I remember one of the last conversations I had with her she said, “I’m ready to meet my maker; I’ve had a long life and I’m ready to go”. She was at peace with moving from this life to the next. It was not traumatic, it didn’t claim the lives of others, and she didn’t alienate those closest to her. She, with her family, embraced it.
Jean has been gone for 20 years and her life still impacts me today. Our relationship was special and I’m grateful to God for bringing her into my life. Jean healed my soul when she moved from this life to the next with light on her face and peace in her heart.