“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” – Luke 6:38
“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away…. ‘I am making everything new!’” – Revelation 21:4-5
We Never Know
Just over a year ago, my husband Skip and I left to go on a much-needed vacation. We packed the camping gear and the suitcases and away we went. Before leaving, though, we went to visit his mother, who was in a nursing home for physical rehabilitation after a long illness. It seemed like with each health improvement, there always came a new health problem. After our visit, she told us to have fun and to let her know when we got there. That was on a Friday. We left the following Monday morning. We never got to speak to her again.
She was taken to the ER that Monday afternoon and the family kept in touch with us. We continued our journey, reached our first destination, set up camp, and had supper. Just before bedtime, we got the call that she was gone. That moment is still very vivid in my mind. Feeling an urgency, we immediately packed everything back up and headed back to Mississippi for the difficult task of planning a funeral, while grieving, while comforting our family. Grief is hard and it is necessary at such a time, but God is our Rock. With that said, let me tell you about Granny Hen.Grief is hard and it is necessary at such a time, but God is our Rock. #griefishard Click To Tweet
My mother in law was a tiny lady. In her prime, she stood all of five feet tall. In that tiny lady was a magnificent mixture of love (both tender and tough love), of fierce determination, a phenomenal work ethic, and endless generosity. All these virtues – and many more – flowed freely from her heart. She was always, no matter what the circumstances, a joy to be around, and I miss her dearly. We all do.
Her name was Bonnie, but when I met her, everyone always called her Granny Hen. I met her at Christmas time in 1984, a couple of months after Skip and I became engaged. She welcomed me with a big hug, and from that day on treated me as if I had always been part of the family. The meal she had prepared that evening was unbelievably delicious, followed with pecan pie that was scrumptious. As we sat around the table eating and talking over dessert, I asked her if I could have her pecan pie recipe. Without missing a beat, she smiled, saying “Mmhmm!” while nodding a definite yes. That was the first of many recipes she gave me.
Granny Hen – Wife, Mother, Grandmother
Granny Hen loved being a wife, a mother (of five children, all born in less than five years), and a grandmother. She loved to work in her flower beds and in the vegetable garden and with the fruit and pecan trees in the yard. She had the greenest thumb I’ve ever seen. Each year the yields from that yard would produce unbelievable amounts of veggies, blueberries, pecans and, a few walnuts, all to be frozen for the winter. There would be jars and jars of jellies, jams, fig preserves, tomatoes, tomato juice, pepper sauce, pickles, chow-chow … I’m sure I’m leaving something out.
A Gardener & Preserver
Granny Hen not only loved making it, but she also loved sharing it. She would box up dozens of jars of various canned goods, sending them home with friends and family. She would ship them to friends and family too far away to see very often. On many occasions, we would bring a cooler when going to visit and return home with it completely full of frozen fruits and vegetables. She was a lifesaver on grocery bills when we were raising two boys. I haven’t had to buy jelly or jam in over thirty-four years!
Many years ago, in a conversation centering around her gardening and cooking skills and her generosity, I said something about the amount of sugar and jars and lids and such that goes into such a venture, and the cost of such. With twinkling eyes and her sweet smile, she said with joy, “It seems like the more I give, the more I get! God is good!” Indeed, God is good.
The epitome of love, joy, and kindness.
Over the years, Bonnie Atchison had battled much and overcome. She grew up poor in possessions, but rich in love. She married at the end of 1951; they raised a family. Their marriage and family was always full of love. Her husband went to heaven thirty years ahead of her. She had endured quadruple heart bypass surgery and recovered.
Many years later, she took a fall, had shoulder replacement surgery, suffered a major stroke, recovered, then fell again, resulting in a misplaced shoulder socket. The few years she lived after that displayed declining health and limited mobility. Despite those limitations, whether she was in the hospital, at home, or in a nursing home, her sweet spirit prevailed.
Granny Hen was always kind to her caregivers and generous with compliments and smiles. “The Hen,” (as some called her) was the epitome of love and joy and kindness. She was a remarkable woman. Was. Past tense. In the past. . .
Remembering Granny Hen
The drive back to Mississippi that night last October was long and sad. Planning the funeral was hard. Being with family was both hard and a comfort. Friends and loved ones who gave love and support were a comfort. My husband, a pastor who has done many funerals, spoke at his own mother’s funeral which was hard. Granny Hen’s pastor’s message at her funeral was a joy and comfort. He told of the way Christ shined from her being. In all this grief, we knew then and know now, that she is in the presence of our Lord and Savior. Granny Hen is free of pain and physical limitations. She is reunited with her loving husband and others who have gone on before them.
Granny Hen was generous. She gave of her love and her wisdom, her gifts and talents, her bountiful harvest, and herself. The memories we have of my dear mother in law are cherished and many. They are filled with wisdom, with love, with laughter, and with tears. Sometimes they bring tears because grief is hard. Sometimes they bring smiles and laughter because grief is not only hard, it is a strange comfort.
Often, he givGrief teaches us to remember, to ponder, to learn, to cherish, and most importantly, to go on. Of all the many things she gave us, the memories are the best, because within those memories lies all she was and all she taught us to be. Yes, grief is hard; it is necessary, and it is a teacher.
Treasure the good things
If you are in a time of grief in your life, I urge you to ponder the many things you love and miss most about your loved one. Treasure it all, but do not stop there. Go on. Live. Give of what was given to you. Share the love, share the wisdom, share the laughter, the tears, and the lessons. In it all, as hard as grief may be, let it come.
- Be silent.
- For that is the best way to honor them and their memory.
Treasuring my Mother-in-law;
Last Chance to Link-up in October
Glenae Atchison is a native of Indiana, and a long time resident of Mississippi. She graduated from Asbury College in 1983 with a BS in Music Education. She and her husband, Skip have been married for over thirty years. They have two married children and three grandchildren. Glenae is active in choir, two group Bible studies, United Methodist Women, and is a certified lay servant in the United Methodist Church. Her favorite activities include singing and playing the piano, sewing, quilting, and making Swedish weave blankets.