When I Grow Up…
Have you ever found yourself, even as an adult, thinking or saying, “When I grow up, I want to be like_____________?” Then the striking realization hits you that you are grown up! You have a real job, and a real family, and handle real life things every day. I think what our hearts and heads are unconsciously saying is that there is something about that person that you’d like to develop and emulate in your own life. For me that person would be my grandmother, Joyce Short.
Just one year ago, today, she made her journey to heaven. My feelings about her death are bittersweet. On the one hand, she was in a lot of pain and I’m so glad to know that she is freed from that. I also know that she is joyously celebrating with all of those she loved who passed before her. The selfish side of me, misses her like crazy. Just the very thought of her sweet smile and thoughtful ways, brings tears to my eyes. Recently, my husband mentioned taking a day trip to the hometown of my grandparents to visit a museum and put flowers on their graves. Even though I know it is true, my heart is not ready to face the fact that someone else lives in the house where all of my fondest childhood memories took place. It is hard for me to believe that she would not greet us at the door with a hug and a kiss.
So, why do I want to be like Grandma when I grow up? Well, from the outside looking in, one might think it would be because of my grandmothers stunning beauty. In her younger years, she was strikingly beautiful. I used to stare at her picture, as a young girl, and hope that God would let me be as pretty as her when I grew up. However, a closer look reveals her inner beauty, which was even more captivating than her outward appearance. The thing I loved most about my grandma was that she loved everyone for who they were, in her presence, that very moment. She savored the goodness in each of us. She did not preach or give a lot of advice, but somehow I knew that she thought I could take on the world. Even though, I know that she knew, that we were all flawed and imperfect, she never chose to focus on it. She only played on people’s strengths. This sentiment did not just apply to her grandchildren, it applied to everyone she knew. She could always think of something nice to say about everyone. As time has passed since her death, I’ve had time to ponder. Isn’t that what Jesus does with us every day? Does he not see our goodness and potential, when we are really nothing more than selfish sinners?
So, what does this have to do with being a teacher? Well, I’m getting around to that. What if…you are that person that some student wants to “be” when they grow up? What if you have students watching your every move to see how you will react? What if we were all like my Grandma and truly appreciate the essence of who each of our students are, right this very moment. Has anyone ever truly relished the presence of that young man or woman sitting right in front of you? Isn’t that what our Lord does with us everyday? Does He not relish our presence and see and accept us just the way we are?
So, who is the person you want to be like when you grow up? Why do you want to be like them? What would your students gain, if you allowed their traits to shape your classroom? It is something to ponder, for sure.
In closing, I want to share what I wrote about Grandma, that was read at her funeral.
I sure do miss her…but, hopefully, a little piece of her will live on as I try my best to be like her when I, eventually, grow up!
As I left the hospital last Friday night, knowing that I’d told my Grandma goodbye for the last time on earth, I just kept thinking, “How can the world continue without her?…” You see, my Grandma was a rare gem. In fact, I think my great-grandparents must have had some insight about who my Grandma would become when they named her Joyce, because JOY is exactly what she exuded her entire life. When God created my Grandma He broke the mold. I’ve yet to meet anyone else who exudes the same quiet, kind, and gentle spirt. Without a doubt, my Grandma was the most positive and optimistic person I’ve ever known. A prime example of this occurred when J.W., called her when he was in 7th grade, to interview her about the hardships of the Great Depression and the Great Dust Bowl, he hung up the phone and wasn’t exactly sure what to write. Grandma explained that it was just a little windy and dusty during those years, and some nice men came and planted some trees. It was all a matter of perspective and Grandma’s perspective was always positive. Never have I ever heard her utter a negative word about anyone. She had an uncanny ability to see the absolute best in everyone.
It is impossible to think of Grandma without mentioning Granddad. They were smitten with each other from beginning to end. They had a love that endured and weathered the storms of life. Granddad always said that Grandma was the prettiest lady he’d ever seen. I would have to agree with him. Not only was my Grandma a physically beautiful woman, but the kindness in her heart made her even more stunning. Love radiated from my Grandma.
I think all of my cousins would agree that just about all of our favorite childhood memories took place at Grandma and Granddad’s house. Nothing could rival the exciting feeling of pulling up to their house, on Christmas Eve or for your birthday. Grandma and Granddad were the constant in our lives. No matter how hectic or chaotic our lives, at home were, you could always count on their house to be the same. We were always greeted at the door with hugs and smiles. I guarantee you that right up until the end; Grandma could have named each of our favorite childhood foods, friends, and toys.
While speaking with my boys about the deep and consistent thoughtfulness that Grandma always showed towards everyone, one of them replied, “Well, Mom, you’re no Grandma…” How absolutely true that is! While my hope is to have the same disposition as my Grandma, I also have a little bit of Granddad in me, too. We all do… and it makes us smile and swell up with pride. While Grandma gave her sweetness, Granddad gave us bold and strong determination. I think God knew that the two would make a great combination.
While we mourn the loss of Grandma’s presence in our lives, we do not mourn without hope. For the Bible tells us to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. One day, we will be reunited with Grandma and Granddad. They will meet us at heaven’s gates and greet us with hugs and smiles, just like they always have.
We must remember that:
“Thou weeping may endure for the night, JOY comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5
JOYce Short would want us to rejoice in her homecoming.
Proverbs 31 describes the virtuous woman. I think that my Grandma more than lived up to the criteria set forth in the scriptures.
“Her children rise up and call her blessed. Her husband also praises her: Many women are capable, but you surpass them all! Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord will be praised. Give her the reward of her labor and let her works praise her at the city gates.” Proverbs 31:28-31
We have big shoes to fill and a torch to carry. May God give us the strength and wisdom to create the same kind of legacy that will continue with our own children and grand-children. How incredibly blessed we are to have had Eddie and Joyce Short as grandparents.