Wednesday, November 5, 2008
“Reward her for all she has done. Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.” Proverbs 31:31
Today my Grandmother, Reta Doty Williams, would have been 109 years old. She died of cancer on her 80th birthday, just two weeks before my little family was to fly out from Dallas Texas to visit her in Pennsylvania. My heart was broken, but at the same time I was grateful that she no longer had to suffer and she was now in the arms of our Savior.
I grew up in a troubled home to say the least; but I also was given the honor and privilege to have the elder matriarchs in my family assist in my upbringing. I had the awesome privilege of living with my great-grandmother, grandmother and great-aunt from time to time as a child. The unfortunate thing is that you don’t realize just how fortunate you really were until you no longer have them in your life.
My grandmother was a strong independent woman who had a heart and soul for care-giving. She not only raised four wonderfully gifted children, but she helped raise most of her grandchildren as well. Her care-giving did not stop there either; she was a private care nurse as well. Oh the wonderful stories she would tell us about the people she cared for; some of them I would meet as well. Maybe this is one of the reasons I was never afraid of the elderly or chronically ill; and later I would minister with my husband in a nursing home ministry as well as others within our church ministries through the years. My grandmother taught me to value life no matter the quality of that life. She was at many a bedside when people took their last breathes into eternity. Grandma cared for her disabled and later cancer ridden mother until her death as well.
It did not matter how busy my grandmother was, she always had time for a loved one. If I was ill, or injured, my grandmother was there to nurse me back to health. If my mother needed assistance with child care, grandma was right there making sure all my needs were met. I stayed with my grandmother or vice versa on many occasions and she never made me feel as though I was a nuisance.
My grandmother was a beautiful woman who loved to tell stories about her life and her children’s lives. She had a little rebel in her too. The Doty women were always quite conservative and proper women, but grandma felt that it didn’t mean you couldn’t enjoy life. If she wanted ice cream for breakfast… why not… just put it on top of your cereal instead of milk… it’s just frozen milk right? None of those dull drab colored dresses for her; no way! She wore beautifully colored dresses and even wore pantsuits later in life! Her sisters thought she was too radical. But grandma didn’t care what they thought; she lived her life as she wanted to; serving others. I think that is what kept her young and healthy until about two years before her death. There were many times through her life that she “cheated” death. One was twenty years before her death when she was diagnosed and treated for colon cancer in 1959. The doctors had said that if she survived the surgery she would have about six months to live; but in Grandma Reta fashion, she defied the nay-Sayers and lived a full and healthy life for twenty more years! I am so thankful that our Lord gave her those extra years so I would have the privilege of knowing and loving one of the greatest women who immensely influenced my life and help mold me into the person I am today.
Today, Grandma, I am publicly declaring my praise for your beautiful life and unconditional love you bestowed upon each of your loved ones. You have been greatly missed and I truly look forward to the day your loving and caring arms are around me once again. I love you Grandma!