GENDUSA COLUMN: Visits from an Angel

Published 8:23 pm Tuesday, February 27, 2024

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“The golden moments in the stream of life rush past us, and we see nothing but sand; the angels come to visit us, and we only know them when they are gone.” George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans, English poet)

Grandpa (aka my grandmother) visited me in a dream recently. She seems accustomed to using her angel wings to fly into my bedroom in the middle of the night. I treasure the times she visits to remind me of the things I shouldn’t have forgotten in the first place. 

I don’t lightly use the word “angel” in this text because she must be a mighty angel above since she was a saint here. 

Grandpa grew up in Monterey, Tennessee, where I was born. She was the oldest girl of her five siblings. Her father died in a sawmill accident in 1907 when she was ten years old, and her mother was about to give birth to her youngest sister. 

Nancy Melisa finished elementary school but did not continue her education. She, instead, needed to help her mother care for the rest of the family. I don’t believe Grandpa stopped working until God called her home in her ninety-seventh year. 

“Do you wish you could have graduated high school?” I asked her one day while she made her morning batch of biscuits. 

“Oh, I don’t care much for looking back to wishes. Seems a waste of the brain to spend time on things one cannot change. I did what God called me to do, and I don’t regret or resent that. I was taught that hard work makes another’s life easier.” She answered. 

Then, I began to waste no time on regret, resentment, and broken dreams. I understood I would always need to work through them.

“Grandpa, how did you meet Granddaddy? I once questioned her.

“Shoot, honey, I’ve been married nearly 50 years, and I am still amazed I married your granddaddy!” She laughed as she answered.

“That John was about to be engaged to a beautiful girl I knew. One day, he strolled up to me, and we began talking. The next thing I knew, we were married.”

“He was the most handsome man in town, and to this day, I still don’t know what he saw in me, just a simple girl and indeed no beauty!”

That day, I learned beauty has nothing to do with being beautiful. 

When their three children were heading to school by the late 1920s, Nancy rose each morning to prepare breakfast and lunch. Back then, there were no school buses or cafeterias, so they all walked to school carrying knapsacks and never thought to complain. 

Between Grandpa and Grandaddy, the love they poured into their three was fueled by hard work, life lessons, and faith. 

Even during the Great Depression and other difficult times, Grandpa said they endured because of the hen and the cow God sent to save them. 

“Grandpa, how did a hen and cow help you?” 

“That crazy hen began to lay more eggs than I ever saw! We had so many I’d send the kids to deliver them to those who were hungry. And Bessie produced more milk than we could use, so we also sent that around town.”

As I recall her words, I am reminded of the words of Christ, “For the man who uses well what he is given shall be given more, and he shall have abundance.” Matthew 25:29

I never doubted that God did ship the cow and the hen to their little acre because He knew what she would do with the abundance. 

If all her grandchildren visited at one time, the refrigerator would barely close. If each one of the nine of us were to look inside, our favorite food was on a shelf. 

“Grandpa, you really go through a lot of trouble for all of us, don’t you?” I asked one day before everyone came for Easter. 

“Why, it’s no trouble!” She quickly answered. “You see it as trouble, and I see it as love. I don’t have much money to buy things for you all, but I can give in other ways, like making a chocolate pie or pear salad. I can sew a quilt, rub a back, or grow yummy watermelons. When you don’t care enough to do for those you love, then that’s trouble.”

That’s when I understood that if I could be like anyone in the world, it would be like Grandpa.

In the little Tennessee town where she lived her entire life, some still recall the woman we called Grandpa. However, they don’t know she now has wings and visits those who must be reminded to work hard without complaint, grow a beautiful heart, be faithful, and love all dearly.