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Monday, September 30, 2013

My Grandmother's Legacy

This weekend I flew out to California to visit my grandmother. Let me tell you a little bit about Baba:

Technically her name is Helen, but if you met her in the past 50 years, then you call her either Baba or Aunt Helen. Born November of 1921, she has lived her entire life in southern California. She never scaled Mount Everest or swam the English Channel. To my knowledge, she never won an Oscar or an Emmy, rode in a space shuttle, or raced in the Iditarod. But she is about the best grandmother anyone has ever had, and she has left a legacy on this earth. Let me tell you why.

Fearless. Okay, she's afraid of snakes. But that is it. If she had been born today, she would have bungee-jumped, sky-dived, and anything-else-crazy you can think of. But she never really went anywhere or did anything that my generation would deem fearless. Except to give birth to four CRAZY (but really fun) girls.

Cartoon hater. Even though she was only 7 years-old when the first Mickey Mouse cartoon came out, she doesn't understand them, and never did. She hates them with a passion you wouldn't believe. But she was happy to watch them with her grandkids.

Gardener extraordinaire. She taught me to appreciate gardens and flowers, even though I don't have any particular affinity for those things.

Game aficionado. She would smoke you in checkers or Rook. And she never, ever let me win. Even when I got mad. She taught me how to lose gracefully--a lesson that I've never forgotten.

Prayer warrior. She prays for me every day. If she has met you, I know that she prays for you every day, too.

Strong as an ox. I was a grown man before her handshakes stopped hurting me.

Christ follower. She has walked with God and sought his wisdom her entire life, and she has left that legacy for generations to come.

Dietitian. From age 68 to 83, she ate ice cream for breakfast almost daily, and never saw a problem with it.

Pest exterminator.  She found a very effective way for pest control in her garden. If you kill a snail, it's worth a penny. If you kill a tomato bug, it's worth 25 cents. And I never went home with less than a couple of bucks in my pocket.

Miss Manners. She was my first date, and she taught me all that I needed to know to go out on dates with girls a little bit closer to my age.

Turn-a-phrase Queen. She could pull out one of a thousand for any given situation. One I heard yesterday, "He's got more money than Carter's got little liver pills."  But my all-time favorite: "That's about as useful a chicken with a pocket on its side."

Matriarch. Four children, 16 grandchildren, 30 great-grandchildren, ages two to 70. Seven small-business owners, seven full-time moms, three pastors, three in business, two teachers, one military officer, one executive, one in sales, one attorney, one counselor, and the rest are students. All walk with God.

I don't know if she'll live another week or another decade, but I do know this. The world will be a little bit darker, a little bit sadder, and a little bit less wonderful when she is gone. But it will feel her impact for years to come.