Saying goodbye is never easy! No matter how much we have prepared ourselves for the task, when that moment comes we are never ready! We will forever wish for ONE MORE MINUTE, to hug them, pray with them, say goodbye, and tell them how much we love them. I’ve been preparing myself and my children for this moment for the last month.
My heart is full of emotion and thoughts are racing through my mind as I try to wrap my head around the phone call and text messages I got an hour ago. She lived for so many years, yet they passed by so quickly. I am sad, sad that my children will never see her again,sad they will never have anymore conversations with her about Jesus, and Heaven, and sad that they will never experience her front porch swing like I did growing up. My best childhood memories were on that porch swing! They will never taste her cherry pies, or watch her slender wrinkled fingers graze the keys of ivory on her piano while singing “What a friend we have in Jesus.” She had a way of making everything beautiful!
Her hands, her hands will be forever ingrained into my memory. So soft and cold, yet warm and tired all at the same time. Her kitchen table was never without coffee creamer, sugar, and rings from the hundreds of coffee cups that visited her over the years. I remember watching her hands as she wiped off her kitchen table over and over with the white wash cloth. She would push all the sugar and cream off into her hand before putting the wash cloth in her sink filled with soapy water. I would stand there watching her wash and dry the dishes, but never alone. There was always someone there helping her with everything! She had 15 children, and HUNDREDS of Grandchildren, Great-Grandchildren, AND Great-Great Grandchildren. She was never alone! I read a book one time about large families and that was one thing they said in the book “in a Large Family you are NEVER alone!” Down to the minute she passed she was never alone. She had hundreds of us visiting, and calling, and writing, and sitting by her side. She was what made all of us a family! She was the one thing we all had in common! The one person we all loved without measure! The one person we could count on who loved all of us without measure!
The first time I ever heard about Jesus, she was holding me in her arms. We were at the viewing for my grandpa’s funeral. I was trying to understand why people were saying he was saved before he died. She scooped me up in the chair with her and while she wrapped those long soft hands around my shoulders she sat there for as long as it took- to make sure I knew about our Lord and Savior. She saved my life that day! I accepted Jesus a few days later and never looked back. She was the salt and light in my life. She was strong, and wise, and loving. Her whole 98 years she spent most of it making sure that she was living for the Lord. She acknowledged Jesus in everything she did from the way she dressed, to the way she fixed her hair, to the way she worshiped Him. She glorified the Lord in everything she did.
I spent many summers at church camp with her. I spent many mornings watching her bake pies, and visit with family around that kitchen table, and many afternoons swinging next to her on the porch swing watching the cars drive by listening to her talk about how great heaven will be. I wonder if she knows how much she is loved, and I hope she understood the magnitude of influence she had in all of our lives. I hope she knows she left behind something beautiful!
I keep trying to picture in my mind, her entrance into heaven. This beautiful humble woman who lived her every breathe for Jesus- completely surprised when she awakes and is looking at the pearly gates. Beyond them waiting she sees her 4 sons and in the distance walking towards her is her husband! I can’t imagine her excitement to hold him in her arms again after more than 25 years. As they all take her by the hand I hear my grandpa Jack saying, “mama, we want you to meet Jesus!” I can’t imagine the tears that would be flowing from her eyes when she sees him! I’m sure it was music to her ears when he looked at her blue eyes and said, “Myrtle, well done- my GOOD and FAITHFUL servant!” You see she was such a humble woman that even up till her last days, she still wasn’t sure she would make it to heaven, But we all knew she would- without a doubt. I wonder how many crowns she received from the Lord today!
Life will never be the same without her, It’s a little more empty knowing there is one less person to pray for me. The thought of that empty space on the porch swing never being filled by her presence again, is hard to take in. But what she has left behind for us- is ageless, beautiful, and the key to eternity. Her example of living a Godly life is one that will never leave any of our minds. You will never be able to think of her without thinking of her living for the Lord. One thing I always tell my girls, is that, “if you don’t do anything else in your entire life, just Love the Lord with all your heart and live your life for Him, and I will always be proud of you!” I’m sure my Great-Grandma felt the same way about all of us!
While my children will never be able to swing next to her on the porch, or eat the apples off her tree, or run down to the tasty freeze and bring her back a milk shake- they did get amazing memories with her the last few weeks of her life. They sang with her, and read the bible to her, and I was happy that through them- she could see the fruit of her labor- and the harvest from that day she held me in her arms and told me about Jesus! Before we left her a few weeks ago she told me she would meet me at the pearly gates one day. I’m looking forward to seeing her again, until then- she will forever be in my heart. I will see her in every cousin I talk to, in every aunt and uncle I hug, in every cherry pie that I bake, every swing I sit in, and every bible lesson I teach to my children. She is why we are who we are! I’m so thankful for the time we had with her and I pray that I can make her proud, and continue to pass down her legacy she left behind, ” Love the Lord God, with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind with all your strength.” This- This is why she was so beautiful!!