Monday, February 21, 2005

arise and call her blessed

My grandmother passed away last week. Allene Samples would have been 85 in April.

The immediate cause of her death was lymphedema, which caused fluid to fill her lungs and surround her heart. However, the lymphedema was brought on by the bone cancer that she had been fighting since 2002.

She wasn't the typical grandmother. She didn't dote, she didn't lavish her grandchildren with gifts, she didn't go on family trips. She was the mother of five, and with a husband who was either in jail or out finding the next way to get sent back, such excesses were never an option.

She supported her children by ironing, and even after they were all grown, at age 58 she took a job at a laundromat for the sole purpose of saving money to leave them something, even if it was a modest amount by today's standards. She lived in a small apartment in Idalou, TX, living off of Social Security, and even saving most of that for her children. She nursed her mother-in-law back to health, and took care of an elderly woman across the street whom she barely knew.

Nearly every Saturday of my youth included tagging along with my mother to visit her in Idalou. As a child, my cousins and I would play in the field behind her apartment, but as we grew, we prefered coffee to Slush Puppies and visiting to throwing shingles at each other.

She refused to be supported. Even after two of her children were blessed with financial success, the mere hint of any financial support would send her fuming. The woman was so strong, that on Monday morning when the doctors said she would die within the hour, she lived for another 68. Probably just to spite them.

More than anyone I have ever met, my grandmother's life was a model of service and sacrifice. She didn't care about having nice things, or being comfortable, or taking life easy during her golden years. She only cared about other people and finding ways to help them even though the world would regard her as helpless and poor.

As a teenager, she committed her life to Christ. And I find peace in the absolute assurance that she is with him right now.

She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.

She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.

She watches over the affairs of her houshold,
and does eat the bread of idleness.

- Proverbs 31: 25-27