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The Gift of Grandmothers
    by Jim McGuiggan

I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.
    -2 Timothy 1:5

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    How many sights do you know that are lovelier than a fully grown man tenderly taking his elderly mother’s arm and supporting her as she walks from the car to the door or from the waiting room to the doctor’s examining room? Have you seen anything warmer than a grandmother reading a story to a child who sits transfixed or lies in peace or giggles like mad on her lap? Young mothers are beautiful, but what is it about a white-haired, elderly mother who still tenderly touches her fifty-year-old son and fixes his hair down as she did all those years ago when he couldn’t do it for himself?

    B. G. White of Jacksonville, Florida wasn’t eavesdropping but was glad she heard what she heard. It was mid October, and the trees along the Blue Ridge Parkway were ablaze with color. At an overlook where all this could be appreciated, she stood next to a woman who was showing the view to her elderly mother.

    “Isn’t it wonderful of God to take something just before it dies and make it so beautiful?” the daughter said as she gazed at the fallen leaves. “Wouldn’t it be nice,” the mother mused, “if he did that with people?” The younger woman looked at the stooped, white-haired figure beside her and said so softly that she thought no one else heard: “Sometimes he does.”

    I know that civilized societies and countries are held together by governments that seek the welfare of the law-abiding majority. I know that and I’m grateful for it. I also know that society is blessed by devoted school teachers, conscientious social workers, just judges, and ethical lawyers. I’ve seen what passionate men and women can do for societies when they embody noble principles in the centers of power. And only a fool can dismiss as nothing the thousands of community organizations in the cities and towns of the world that cater to the emotional and physical needs of countless unfortunate people. But all these beautiful men and women had mothers and grandmothers (or those who stood in the place of mothers and grandmothers) who helped to shape their characters. For good or evil, it’s people who change people — and there are no people who change people more than mothers and grandmothers!

Grandmas don’t have anything to do except be there.
    One little boy put it very well when asked what a grandmother was. He said: “A grandmother is a lady who has no children of her own, so she loves everybody else’s. Grandmas don’t have anything to do except be there. If they take you for a walk, they slow down past leaves and caterpillars. They never say ‘hurry up.’ Usually they’re fat, but not too fat to tie your shoes. They wear glasses, and sometimes they can take their teeth out. They can answer questions like why dogs hate cats and why God isn’t married. When they read to you, they don’t skip words or mind if it’s the same story again. Everyone should try to have a grandmother, especially if they don’t have television, because grandmas are the only grownups who always have time for you.”

    Mothers and grandmothers have been praised since the world began. One of the most famous men in history was writing an encouragement to a young man he knew, urging him to gallantly complete a difficult commission he had been given. In the course of it he reminded the young man of the splendor of the lives of his grandmother (Lois) and mother (Eunice), and in this way he urged him to live nobly.

    The famous man was Paul, a special messenger of Jesus Christ, and his young friend was Timothy. And did the young man follow in the steps of his mother and grandmother, living his life nobly? Tradition says he became a leading figure for many years in the Christian movement in Ephesus and that he was clubbed to death by a ferocious mob because he publicly denounced the immorality of their worship of the Ephesian goddess, Artemis (Diana).

    A grandmother and her daughter took a little boy of nervous temperament and helped shape him into a kind but bold spokesman for societal righteousness and decency. It shouldn’t be hard for us to see Timothy giggling and thoughtful, wide-eyed and sleepy, quiet and questioning in the laps of the two most important and influential people in his life as he was being molded to play his part in the changing of the world for the better.

    B. G. White’s young woman was right: sometimes God takes something before it dies and makes it so beautiful — a white-haired, stooped little mother or grandmother, for example.


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Title: "The Gift of Grandmothers"
Author: Jim McGuiggan
Publication Date: February 1, 2000

 

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Article © 1999, Jim McGuiggan. Used by permission.
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