I was blessed to grow up in the same little town as my four grandparents. Our little community, comprised mostly of Norwegian immigrants, is surrounded by thousands of acres of rich farmland in northwest Iowa. My grandma Fern grew up on one of these farms. She wasn't Norwegian; she was English. I vaguely remember my great-grandmother, Elizabeth, who was from London, speaking with her English accent. She would say she wasn't the one with an accent. We were the people with the accent.
I remember words of love from Grandma Fern. She was an exceptionally strong woman who made some mean cookies and was even able to make roast beef edible. Her first husband died in a car accident when she was a young woman. She raised my mom and my aunt by herself for a number of years. She was a faithful woman. She loved God and she loved the Church. Her words of kindness, grace, and forgiveness came from her strength and her faith in God.
Grandma was the last of her generation. She died on Tuesday afternoon. She found her final resting place in the arms of her Savior. Although she fell somewhere short of perfection, she embodied forgiveness. Much of what I understand about forgiveness and much of how I experience and practice forgiveness is because she modeled forgiveness in her life. She taught that reconciled is better than resentful and that mercy is better than madness.
Tomorrow morning, in the same church I did the funeral for my childhood best friend a few months ago, I will be doing my grandma's funeral. It will be a celebration of life and a celebration of the forgiveness that at the end of the day really matters--God's forgiveness. My prayer for all of us is this: That we can all live as people who are forgiven and forgiving.
A couple family photos:
1) Sister Jane, niece Little Alex, and the boys
2) Siblings (yes, I am by FAR the youngest. Not even close!)