How Grandma Eleanor Blessed Me

Most folks who lose a loved one struggle to share their thoughts. In the midst of sorrow, self-reflection often trumps self-expression. In my case, I have no choice. When asked to stop preaching about Jesus, Peter said he couldn’t stop speaking about the things he had seen and heard. When it comes to Grandma’s role in God’s story, I feel pretty much the same way. I must tell you how she touched me.

Reflecting on my relationship with Grandma, I can’t recall a time I didn’t call her that: Grandma. Why is that? The answer comes without doubt or hesitation. It was her welcoming, giving, unselfish spirit that made it so. From the beginning, when I started dating her granddaughter, Grandma treated me like one more member of the family. From family get-togethers, to Thursday evening family dinners, I was in. All the way in. Which means I was one more mouth to feed.

Before you think that’s a putdown, think again. One of my favorite pastors once taught me that in scripture something richly spiritual happens with and around food, at the dinner table, when we break bread together. We have Christ’s Last Supper and Peter’s vision about all the food he could eat as examples.

Here on earth, I can think of no more poignant embodiment of that slice of the Gospel story than Grandma. Her servant’s spirit manifested itself with giving, loving, and unrelenting power in the way she cooked and baked for us.

In the way she kept passing the serving bowls to make sure everyone had plenty to eat. In the way even into her later years, she kept learning and trying new recipes — like that humming bird cake — while upholding the old time favorites — that apple pie recipe she picked up from a magazine all those years ago.

Even when you had your fill, even after you told her you already had seconds, she insisted. Though at times it felt that way, I don’t think she wanted to promote my obesity. I believe she wanted to GIVE. Of herself, of what she could do, of what she had. All of it. Here you go. Take it. Have seconds and thirds. And you’re just getting started.

If I had to sum up who Grandma is to me in a short tweet, I’d say it this way: Through her Christ demonstrated sacrificial giving servanthood.

Jesus said he was going ahead to prepare a place — in some translations, a mansion — for us. Consistent with how He gets things done here on earth, enlisting the likes of us to do His work, I imagine Jesus puts grandmas at the top of his mansion preparation crew. Along with my other Grandma, who also went to join the Lord earlier this year, I imagine Grandma Eleanor is at the top of His draft picks this season. I imagine soon she’ll be smiling as she helps prepare a place for us. I imagine when we also meet the Lord, she’ll have a big meal prepared for us. I don’t know about you. But I’m looking forward to Thursday nights in heaven. I bet Grandma Eleanor will have a few new recipes to share with us.

Originally published at on November 29, 2015.