|Gran and I - October 2011|
Her name was Gertie, but she introduced herself as “Gran”.
“I’m Gran to everyone here,” she laughed. “No matter how old they are, I am Gran.”
“That’s not true,” my friend Joy said from across the room. She was officially the leader of our Wednesday morning prayer group and therefore in charge of order. “I will always call you Gertie and we are both Grandmothers!”
I smiled at the close bond they seemed to have. Instead of contradicting her, it was a gentle reminder that they were long-time friends and in this thing together. The other women in my prayer-group had also known her for a long time, as well. I was the new one – newly arrived from America –new to the prayer group.
“I’m a grandmother, too,” I said quietly. The ladies looked at me.
“Well, you’re a young Gran,” Gertie said, smiling. "It's not the same as being an older woman, like me."
Gran knew the Bible well, especially the part about older women being "reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored." (Titus 2:3-5)
For some reason, Gran took this challenge seriously, and taught us all like she was commissioned by God Himself - and in a way, she was. I loved listening to her stories of faith and words of comfort – older women have a way of looking back on time that’s passed and saying “Look how faithful God was there! Do you see?”
That’s what I love about hanging out with women who are older than me… They are patient with the challeges of today because they've lived through so many challenges already.
It didn’t take long for me to see that Gran was this way for many of the women in our church. We all saw her as a pillar of faith – a woman who had been through so much and still shone with expectation of what was coming next. She had sparkle in her eyes and warmth running through her veins. She lived each one of her days.
Before Mario and I moved away from South Africa, I visited her at the residence of her son and his wife – our dear friends, the Myburgh’s. They had retired from Johannesburg and moved to a tranquil piece of land near George that had as much wild as disciplined gardens. Queen proteas were everywhere, and Gran was able to see them as she sat in her favorite seat by the picture window.
“Gran, you look amazing,” I told her.
“I don’t like all of these spots on my face,” she laughed. “Other than that, I can’t complain.”
We talked a little about her life at the farm, the way she had classic aches and pains and her readiness to go to heaven. “I think sometimes that God has forgotten about me!” she joked. “I have to remind Him that I’m ready to go on and be with Him.”
“I think he knows,” I tried to reassure her.
“Tell the ladies at prayer that I still can pray,” she said, emphatically. I told her I would.
Today I received the news that God remembered Gertie and took her to be with Him, finally. From my calculations, she was 97 and 5 months old.
I know she’s in a better place, I know she is finally out of pain, but the world has really lost someone special. She was a classic “woman of faith” – a woman of prayer and a woman who believed God is who He says He is.
She will always be an inspiration for me to live each one of my days.