As Mother’s Day approaches, I’ve found myself thinking a lot about my grandma, Eleanor Giese. She passed away in December 2020. She left quite a biblical legacy for the family. We buried her in January. I was thinking about something she would often say when other people in the family, including myself, were concerned about some of the small things in life.
We laid Grandma to rest at New Hope Community Church in Sunland, California. This was her second home. She was part of every ministry. She served there for over 20 years until she had to move to an assisted living facility in Alhambra, California because she needed help taking care of my grandpa. She lived to be 100 years old. March 21, 2021 would have been her 101st birthday. What I remember most about my grandma is her smile, and the way she was always so happy, and able to laugh.
This came to mind when something happened during the burial service when we were laying Grandma to rest. After the minister said his remarks, a few verses were read that reminded us of Grandma’s character. Then my mom, my cousin Linda, and I each took a turn sprinkling her ashes under a tree in a planter that had a lion and a lamb statue. Obviously, this is not something you do every day. When it was my turn, my mom helped me.
As I leaned my body forward to sprinkle my part of Grandma’s ashes, my mom tried to help angle my hand so it would go in the right direction. Cousin Paul asked my mom, “Do you want me to push her forward?” My mom shook her head no. She should have let cousin Paul push me forward, but she thought I was close enough. It turned out she was wrong. As I said, this is not something you do every day. Anyway, as we lifted the bag, and began to pour Grandma’s ashes into the planter, because my wheelchair wasn’t close enough, some of Grandma’s ashes ended up inside the planter, and some of them ended up on the outside spilled over onto the wall. When we were all done, we washed the ashes into the planter.
At first, I was upset. I kept trying to scrape the ashes off the wall, and throw them in the planter. I wanted it to go perfectly. Then my mom reminded me of something. She said, “Grandma Giese would find it comical. She would laugh and say, “’It don’t matter.’” I thought about it for a minute and then I calmed down when I realized that my mom was right. It reminded me of how my grandma would say that about many things. She learned how to brush off little things like that and just focus on strengthening her relationship with the Lord.
Grandma grew up during the time of the great depression when people didn’t have a lot of money. So they shared many things. For instance, a whole family shared one pair of roller skates.; yet yet no one complained. They were just happy to have the things they had, as well as each other. Grandma surrendered to every situation life handed her, including when she had to go into full care. Because of that, she was very pleasant to be around. The nurses often talked about how they enjoyed having her around because she was so easy to take care of. She was a true servant of the Lord who always had a smile on her face. I don’t have any doubt in my mind that she is wearing the beautiful crown of life that the Bible talks about in James 1:12 where it says, “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”
Lord, teach me to have that same smile like my grandma and to say, “It don’t matter,” and focus my eyes heavenward on the things that matter to you. Amen. See you soon, Grandma. Enjoy heaven.
*Author’s Note: Here’s a link to the church my grandma attended and served at for over 20 years. At the time, it was called Sunland First Baptist Church. Now the church has been renamed, but they still carry on many of the same traditions. When my mom and I went there to check out the facility before we buried my grandma, we saw a whole bunch of children getting out of school, and families playing on the playground. It was a grade school, and the kids were in uniforms. Grandma loved children. She would be thrilled to know that her home church is still thriving in the middle of the pandemic.
Here’s my part of sprinkling Grandma Giese’s ashes. Can you see some of her ashes that spilled over onto the outside of the wall?
Sitting next to me is my mom, Rosemary, and my cousin Linda is standing next to me. I’m holding Lady on my lap. She’s a Chihuahua. She was Grandma’s dog. My mom and I take care of her now. She loves to snuggle, and get real close to people! My mom gets up before I do. When she wakes up, she brings Lady into my room every morning, and we snuggle together in bed before it’s time to start the day. She loves to bury herself under my covers. It’s another way for me to remember my grandma. She was such a warm, family-oriented person.