The past month has been filled with celebration — baby showers in Atlanta and Orlando, decorating the nursery, and traveling to Charleston for a “baby-moon.” There are lots of memories, pictures, and updates to share, but first another celebration is in order – celebrating my Grandma Joy’s life. At my Orlando baby shower, I told Grandma how much I couldn’t wait for our son to meet her, and now he won’t know her sweet smile on this side of heaven. She passed away yesterday afternoon, and here is a letter to our son, celebrating Grandma’s life…
When I called Grandma Joy to let her in on the secret that we were expecting you, she responded with, “You’re having a what?” My Aunt Sandi was there and repeated, “She’s having a baby!” to which Grandma squealed, “A baby!” The news delighted her, and I began picturing you talking baseball stats with her just like your Daddy does. At my baby shower, I presented her with flowers to let her know how thankful I was for her influence in my life and how I looked forward to her being an influence in your life as well. Though you now won’t know that direct influence, she will continue to impact her great-grandchildren through the effect that her love has had on the whole family.
You see, there is no one who better epitomizes their name than her – Joy Joyce – and she was so joyful. Even after her stroke and she moved into assisted living, she was a favorite among staff and residents for her positivity. Though she knew her memory was not as sharp, she teased herself and made jokes when she couldn’t remember a word for something, always maintaining that joyful spirit. As far as I know, she never picked up a paintbrush in her life until after the stroke when she took art classes, and the painting of the flowers that hangs in our house is a reminder of her daily choice of joy despite circumstances.
My sweet son, you would have loved being around her. She was so welcoming, warm, and had a way of making everyone feel comfortable and able to be themselves. Some of my favorite memories were baking Christmas cookies at her house each year, laughing each time her dancing Santa sang Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree. She taught me to fish and how to attract manatees to the side of her house by running the water hose. We played cards and watched The Price Is Right together. Her and Papa made the trek to my high school graduation because they were so proud to hear my speech.
Yet none of these memories can capture the full influence she had on my life and how much she meant to me. I don’t understand the Lord’s timing yet am thankful for a God who weeps with us (John 11:35). “The Lord is near the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (Psalm 35:18). Grandma (like me!) had a sweet tooth, so I imagine she’d be encouraged for us to meditate on this hope that an everlasting feast awaits us:
“Lord, you are my God, I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done wonderful things, things planned long ago… You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in their distress, a shelter from the storm, and a shade from the heat… the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine— the best of meats and the finest of wines… he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces… In that day they will say, ‘Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the Lord, we trusted in him, let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.'” (Isaiah 25).