I’ve been spending time with my Granny June. Well, her memories. Today was my Granny June’s birthday. She lived a long, full life and passed away peacefully in December, 2003. Who Granny was informs who I am, and I’d like to share my Granny with you.
Granny June got into the habit of journaling at some point, perhaps after Grampy died in 1990. Her handwriting is tricky to read, more so in her journals than in the cards and letters she wrote. Granny chronicled the facts of her days: what time she woke up, what she did, what she ate, what time she went to sleep. She wrote about her quiet times, she wrote notes from books she was reading and from bible studies, she kept to-do lists, and every now and then prayed.
“Lord, keep me on track today. Take away my irritation and frustration and make me a blessing to those with whom I come into contact, that I might serve you in the way you would have me to serve.
Time to get Mindi up for school. This is her last week in elementary school.”
June Walker, July 20, 1992
Granny was kind of a saintly do-gooder, and I don’t mean that in a bad way at all. She attended bible studies, Sunday School, church services, meetings, fundraisers and participated in them all. Most of her days started with quiet times spent in prayer and reflection. She ministered to friends in convalescent homes and often took them goodies. She was an incredibly generous person. It seemed like she was always writing and mailing off checks to support one cause or another.
I love little old ladies, which I mean as an endearment, because Granny and her best friends were little old ladies. I love elderly people because Granny taught me to love elderly people. And those elderly people grew to love me, too. A couple of them are still around to do it. I love getting back home to visit them, and I’m often a little tempted to move back just to get to spend more time with them.
I’ve always loved to write letters and send cards. Perhaps that’s something else I get from Granny. She sent out oodles of cards and letters all the time. There were always stamps and mailing labels and stationery at Granny’s.
In the last few years of her life, Granny moved to Tehachapi to live with my sister, her husband, and their daughter. She writes about Buttons, the cat who would mischievously pull all the clothing out of any open drawer. Apparently Granny sometimes counted while she was putting items away, because she wrote specifically, “20 items.” What a crack-up! I can just picture her folding and counting and grumbling a bit at Buttons. What she didn’t write was that it was usually the underwear drawer… I don’t think Granny ever wrote about underwear, unless it was on a to-do list, perhaps.
In Tehachapi, Granny joined a group she referred to as the Crafty Ladies. I’m not sure whether that was what they called themselves. She endeavored to relearn how to crochet and describes trying to make new friends in a new place. Even at 83, Granny was learning new things and making new friends.
It’s another act of providence that Granny spent those years with Myshelle and her family and that she kept up with her journals. Myshelle passed away very suddenly in 2002 in a car accident. That day, Granny wrote:
Got up – Read newspaper. Myshelle left about 9:30 to go to work. She had a bad accident about 10 min. later and the Lord took her home. I didn’t get the news until about 3 p.m…
Then just a few lines down:
I feel it was a part of God’s plan for my life that I should be in Tehachapi sharing her life. I reminded her a few days ago when I returned an 8X10 picture which had hung on my bedroom wall all of these years that she had been my little girl and I thought she should hang the picture with the others on the wall. I loved Myshelle very much. In her 28 years, she had become a mature woman. She loved [her family] very much. She had made many friends…and was active in community affairs… I’m thankful for the opportunity I have had to share in her life. We pray for your peace, Lord, and healing in our grief, and draw us closer to you.
Later that summer:
We are still working through our grief… I have gone through many stages. My strength comes from the Lord. I have new issues every day as I work through my grief. Lord, make me a blessing and not a stumbling block.
Sorry to close out a bit abruptly and without as much proofreading as I’d like, but I’ve got to get on my way to church and have a couple of little old ladies I get to stop and pick up along the way!
On what would have been her 97th birthday, I’m proud to be able to honor my Granny June and all her wisdom, grace, patience, kindness, generosity, compassion, and faith. Thanks for letting me honor the memories of my Granny June by sharing her with you. As a benediction, from Granny’s journal in 1998:
From moment to moment one can bear much.
Teresa of Avila (1515-1582)
May the God of mercy, who is well acquainted with grief, bless us with gentle comfort and healing for our sorrows, Amen.
Marchiene Vroon Rienstra
P.S. – Below are pictures of Granny’s journal entry from her 75th Birthday.