Summers at grandpa’s house and her sign

Published 8:23 pm Wednesday, June 6, 2018

From the time I was two until I was 22, I stayed with my grandmother for two weeks at the beginning of summer. I hope you remember the story as to why I called her “grandpa” instead of grandma or nana or any other suitable “grand” names. However, in case you did not read the original column, it seems grandpa’s first-born grandson was living in the same town as five generations of grandmothers on both sides of his family and only one living grandfather. As a 3-year-old boy, it was mighty confusing when he yelled “grandma” and six grandmothers ran to him. 

He stubbornly began calling his favorite of the grandmother bunch “grandpa,” and no one could make him stop.  She was grandpa to every child who would meet her for the rest of her 97 years.

My aunt Mary and her boys were coming to visit me on the first Sunday I arrived at grandpa’s house in my 10th year, and we had planned to go swimming in a nearby lake. Mama had left the day before to travel the two hours home. I went down the hall to get the swimsuit out of my luggage only to find my mother had not packed one. 

When I realized the horror of such a misdeed, a sure-fire 10-year-old hissy fit lit up the house. 

“Lord, what’s the matter, child?” grandpa yelled as she ran toward the bedroom.

“Mama didn’t pack my swimsuit,” I blubbered, blabbered and blurted out in a yell.

“Lord, I thought the house was on fire,” grandpa said, relieved when she saw the only thing blazing was my face.

Once she calmed me, we started walking down the hall toward the kitchen to call Aunt Mary and discuss what they could do about finding me a suit. I’ll remind you back in those days the only thing open on Sunday was the church, and they didn’t sell swim attire.

As grandpa was dialing Mary, I noticed an old sign hanging amid some family pictures on the hall wall. The cardboard placard had no frame, but a hole was punched in the top to let it hang from a nail.  It’s white stenciled letters read, “I KNOW THE LORD WILL MAKE A WAY FOR ME.”

“Lynn, aunt Mary is going to bring you one of her old smaller swimsuits. I know it’ll be too big but, shoot, we can pin that suit up, and it’ll be just fine,” grandpa merrily stated.

“I know,” I assuredly replied. 

“Why are you now so sure it will all work out?” Grandpa looked puzzled over my new calm demeanor.

“The sign said it would.” I pointed down the hall to the little faded placard hanging on a penny nail. “The Lord told me he would make it happen!”

I swam in the lake that day with my cousins in a suit clinched and pinned together with a myriad of different sized safety pins.  The “way too big” suit fell off a couple of times in the water, but I knew the Lord had made a way for me to swim, so I didn’t complain.    

After grandpa passed away 37 years later, one of the items she left me was the old sign that hung in her hall. Of course, it has no monetary value but is now proudly displayed above my desk and is priceless.

Sixty summers have passed since I wore aunty Mary’s old black swimsuit. I’ll bet I have needed to be reminded 60,000 times through the years to believe the words on the sign.

How many times have I thought I wouldn’t make it through a tragedy or a loss? How many moments have I wailed, screamed and pitched a 10-year-old hissy fit as an adult because I couldn’t find my way? How many halls have I paced wondering what to do? How many times have I worried and fretted over uncontrollable events?

This morning I intended to write my weekly column. I started writing three stories and threw them in the trash. A little panic and worry began to wrinkle my brow when I thought I could be experiencing my first case of writer’s block.

I randomly opened my Bible to see if the Lord’s words would spark a few words of my own. In red letters He said, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”

I then noticed the old sign slightly hidden behind my computer screen. I immediately recalled grandpa telling the story many times about the little girl who visited on a Sunday and had enough faith to believe the words, “I KNOW THE LORD WILL MAKE A WAY FOR ME.”

He always has, and he always will.