Lessons Learned

Love kept them together for over sixty years, and love led them to make the pilgrimage to heaven within forty-eight hours of each other.  She went first and he followed. As I sat with the rest of my family in the chapel back then and looked at the twin caskets, I wasn’t grieving for my grandparents.  Far from it.They had lived their entire lives in preparation for the moment they would meet Jesus face to face.
No, I wasn’t grieving.  I was remembering.
I remembered knowing intellectually that they didn’t have much in the way of things, but I also remember my grandmamma could take a little hamburger, a bottle of ketchup, a box of spaghetti, and some Ritz crackers, work her magic, and make an Italian meal as fine as any restaurant ever turned out.
I remembered the time I was sick with one of the myriad of childhood illnesses and grandmamma came in the house with a can of Donald Duck Orange Juice because she knew I liked orange juice and Donald Duck was my favorite cartoon character. Certainly I’ve had orange juice since then, but none has ever tasted as good.
I remembered how there was never a time in my life when I saw her that she didn’t call me her “sweet boy.” Even when her memory started to fade I was her sweet boy. And I’ve never really felt worthy of the title.
I remembered my granddaddy. Tall and slow, missing a few fingers. But he could build and fix more things with seven fingers than I could with all ten. Broken toys were no match for a soldering iron and a little electrician’s tape.
He once built a butterbean sheller after seeing one at a produce farm. He added a few improvements of his own and it worked for twenty years. People came from all over the county to have their peas and beans shelled in his wonderful contraption.
I remembered the times he came over, put his arm around me, and just grinned. We never said anything in those moments.  We didn’t have to. The last time I saw him, he struggled to stand up, put his arm around me, and just grinned.
I know what he meant.
My grandparents taught me some of the most important lessons of my life.  
For example:
The sound made by the whole family gathered in the living room on Christmas morning sounds a lot like music.
You don’t have to be pretty to be beautiful.
Every grandchild is beautiful.
It is easier to bear the occasional pain that comes from forgiving others than it is to bear the pain of not forgiving someone.
Nothing will ever love you like a puppy.
Money is OK for buying things, but it doesn’t have much practical use when it comes to being happy.
A humble gift given from the heart will outlast diamonds.
It’s OK to be afraid. Just remember to hold God’s hand.

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