Some friends of mine have lost loved ones or have learned of terminal illness. Got me thinking about my grandmother.
In July 2006, my paternal grandmother passed away. She was 90 years old. I used to blog on another site back then. Dug up an old post about the eulogy I had given at her wake and I’ve reposed most of it here.
10 Who can find a virtuous wife?
For her worth is far above rubies.
11 The heart of her husband safely trusts her;
So he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life.
. . . 26 She opens her mouth with wisdom,
And on her tongue is the law of kindness.
27 She watches over the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up and call her blessed;
Her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many daughters have done well,
But you excel them all.”
30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing,
But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.
31 Give her of the fruit of her hands,
And let her own works praise her in the gates.
I’ve been blessed to know my grandmother for almost 25 years since she and my grandfather first came to live with us. In those short years, I’ve learned so much from this quiet and unassuming woman. She is largely responsible for teaching me almost everything I know about life, family, working hard, faith and obedience. Her words of wisdom will be with me for the rest of my life. I’ve never seen my grandmother wearing fancy clothes or expensive jewelry. She told me once that she came to this country with less than $5 in her pocket and that she would leave this place with even less.
My grandmother had seen hard times in her life. She had been through war, depression, and Japanese occupation. She watched Korea become a divided nation, pitting brother against brother, son against father. Grandma had all of her property seized and had to rebuild from nothing on more than one occasion. She had to bury one of her four children at a young age after a drowning accident at the beach. She witnessed the rebirth of her country from war but later left her native land for the United States. Eventually, she became a US Citizen.
My grandfather, who was staunchly opposed to ever setting foot in a church, was gloriously and miraculously saved in the twilight of his life. True to her form, Grandma didn’t beat him into guilty submission to go with her to church. She merely left the invitation open each Sunday and through her gentle, submissive, and patient spirit, he came to see the peace that she had which he had lacked. When he was diagnosed with lung cancer and liver disease from years of smoking and drinking, his own mortality finally opened the door for the gospel. And just months before he left this world, we witnessed my grandfather confess Christ as his savior and watched him get baptized.
For the next 20 years, my grandmother lived as a widow in my parents’ home. She was never treated as a guest; this was her home. Hers was a place of honor and respect. When I look around and see families torn apart because of petty arguments and power struggles, it breaks my heart to know that many miss out in the richness of multi-generational fellowship that we enjoyed through most of my childhood and early adulthood. Never did my grandmother laud her place over my mother. Though clearly my father was the head of our home, the delicate balance of power between mother and father was, for me, a picture of the trinity itself. Humility and honor balanced on the Word of God in our home.
Before she passed, my grandmother told me that she had done everything that she needed to do in her life. She had watched her 10 grandchildren and (at the time) 9 great-grandchildren grow. She knew the family line would continue. She owed no one anything. All of her debts had been settled years ago. No one owed her anything. She had said all of the things that she’d wanted to say to her family and her friends. She has no unfinished business left and most importantly, no regrets or remorse.
When my grandfather passed away almost 2 decades before, my grandmother told me that she did not shed one tear at his funeral. Instead,she was filled with joy and peace because he had finally come to know Christ and knew that someday, they would be together for eternity. Instead of mourning, she celebrated.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but my grandmother was reciting 2 Timothy 4:7-8 to me.
7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.
My grandmother told me that she was ready to die because she had finished the race. And after listening to this gentle matriarch whom I loved and admired for most of my life, I couldn’t say anything to refute her logic. Of course, I told her that she should live to watch our children grow up and see my sister married, etc. But in my heart, I wasn’t even buying my own words. My grandmother gave me explicit instructions to tell everyone at her funeral that we were to celebrate her life– not mourn her death.
Some people might look at my grandmother’s life and think she died a poor woman without a penny to her name, dependent on her family to house and care for her. Some might say that she deserved to have fancy clothing and jewelry and sit around eating bon-bons and be waited on in her old age.
And they would have missed the point of Grandma’s life.