Today marks two years since my grandmother passed. Seems like just yesterday. It’s amazing how fast time flies when life gets busy. I wish I could go back in time and just sit with her awhile. There’s so much I never got around to saying, and there’s so much she never got a chance to listen to.
Even as a little girl, my grandma was my hero. She always had a smile on her face, whether times were good or, uhm, not so good. But it was her eyes… Her eyes were a clear window right down to the innermost parts of her soul. I could read her. Complete novels hid behind those eyes. Stories of struggle, fear, doubt, and worry; but I never heard her once complain. My Grandma was a WARRIOR. She was the super glue that held my crazy family together.
My grandma was the model Christian. Church on Sundays, worked at the ORU Prayer Tower during the weekdays, and CBN at night. But there was just something different about Grandma’s “Christian”. I didn’t know what it was as a child, but I know now. My grandma knew how to LOVE. I mean, lay the judgement down, look at the heart, and put-yourself-in-their-place kind of love.
There’s so many wonderful memories I have of this woman. Christmas Eve parties complete with bar-b-que dinners, Dirty Santa games, and what felt like a hundred children running through the tiny, yet just big enough, house. Saturday morning trips to the Swap-N-Shop flea market, and her prayer meetings. You can’t forget her prayer meetings. But the one memory that I love her for most, comes in the form of a bicycle.
My mom always prided herself in making me the daintiest little thing around. Home sewn dresses and bows to match, I was her “Darling Daughter, Darla”. After all, she had three boys prior to me. She was ready for her girl, and she was going to do it right!
It wasn’t just my clothes, however. It was pretty much everything I owned. Dolls, barbies, you know…”girl toys”. My bikes would always be the pink and purple banana seat bikes with tassels in the handlebars and flowery butterfly stickers. Oh, and of course, a basket. Gotta have a basket!
I put on a smile and said thank you, and tried really hard to be the girl mom wanted me to be. But inside, what I REALLY wanted was my brother’s black and gold BMX bike with the black grips that kinda wrapped around your hands, and the really awesome pads that wrapped around the bars. It was really cool!!! I rode it when nobody was looking…
One day, I was playing in the yard when my grandma’s cream colored Buick boat appeared in my driveway. I ran up to her for my usual greeting hug, and she told me she had something in her trunk for me.
“For ME? In the TRUNK???” I knew if it was in the trunk it had to be big. I ran to the back of the car and waited for what seemed like an eternity. She said she had found it at a garage sale for 20 bucks. I’m sure my eyes were as big as baseballs as the trunk opened.
And there it was. An all-chrome BMX bike. Knobby tires; black and white grips. Raised seat (Not a banana seat!!!). The pedals were black metal instead of white plastic. There were no pads. It was a little more than gently used, but it was MINE. And there was nothing more beautiful to me.
It wasn’t the bike that was the biggest gift, though. It was the fact that my grandma saw me for ME…for who I WAS instead of who everyone wanted me to be. That would be the gift that drew me closer to my grandma than any other gift she could have possibly given me that day.
Fast forward about 27 years. I had just left my husband for a woman. My family, who always preached God’s unconditional love, had shut me off. My brothers didn’t speak to me. My nieces weren’t allowed at my home. My business was broke into by a family member, and other family members talked about me behind my back. The church I went to told me to “grow up and stop being so selfish.” I was homeless. I was cold. That winter was emotionally and physically brutal.
Until one night, when my cell phone rang.
“Darla? This is Grandma”… I could hardly talk, so she did the talking. “I don’t really know what you’re going through, honey, but I want you to know that I love you. I’m here for you. I don’t understand those feelings you have, but if you ever want to talk, I bought a book on it.”
A huge smile crossed my face.
She bought a book on it. My grandma had bought a book on it. She did that for me. My heart smiled, and I was laughing so hard inside. She bought a BOOK on it!!! She didn’t understand me, so she was looking for a way. That’s all I needed. Someone just willing to listen, and to love me, and to “buy a book on it.”
I never saw that book.
I didn’t need to.
I love you, Grandma. And I miss you so much….
Love you more…❤️