BY NINA KEENAM
“Just call me Grandma, everybody does,” the woman holding a walking cane said, as several persons introduced themselves to me and my husband. We had just arrived in Lillian where my husband was appointed to serve the newly organized United Methodist Church. It was 1982, such a long time ago, but in my mind’s eye I still see Grandma pushing aside her cane to give us both hearty hugs.
One day a year or so later, my husband dashed out to the car heading for a Pensacola hospital. Grandma had been in an automobile accident. He stood at her side soon after a brace had been attached to her skull. She told him how sorry she was that she was going to miss Sunday school and worship service, and then asked about some sick church members.
The next day, I accompanied him to the hospital. After keeping up a steady stream of idle chatter with him on the way, I fell silent as my heels clicked on the floor of the hospital hallway. I trailed several steps behind him. We passed through a couple of doors and moved on to find several friends outside an intensive care room. I stood back with them as my husband went inside. In a few minutes he motioned me to enter.
How I dreaded to walk those few steps to see our dear friend strapped to the bed. Butterflies fluttered in my stomach. Her head was held by a steel device and tubes ran into her arms. “Get over here,” she said, extending a tanned hand toward me. “I’m so glad you came.” Her grip was strong and a smile spread across her wrinkled face. Her fingers clasped mine as we spoke for a few minutes and my husband read a few passages of scripture and prayed. I left the room touched, lifted up by her cheerful attitude and her show of faith. The accident had left her with a fractured neck at age 79.
Grandma was a member of a Monday morning Bible study group I attended. She had told us how her husband brought her a cup of coffee to their bed every morning as soon as she awakened. While she sipped her coffee, she read scriptures and they prayed to begin the day. As we participated in the Bible study, she related some of the simple teachings of her mother who had a great influence in shaping her daughter’s faith.
Age was not a stumbling block in Grandma’s life journey. Grandpa preferred to stay home, but he encouraged her to keep up her activities. In retirement she was active in church and related functions, as well as community and senior citizen activities. She always stayed ready to give a helping hand.
Grandma recuperated well from her accident and resumed doing what she loved. As I think back on those days, I realize she was one of those persons who, as the song goes, “brightened the corner” where she was.