A week ago tomorrow I attended the funeral of my grandma, Dorothy Summerville. Now a lot of people may have counted her out long ago. She was 95 and as Americans we have the tendency to discount those who are older among us. But my grandmother was not to be discounted. In the days leading up to her death my mom and aunt sat by her bed side at the hospital, where so many people came by that they had to give her, her own room. One by one and two by two people would come in, hold grandma’s hand and thank her for her influence in their lives. One couple cried as they thanked her for literally saving their marriage, other’s thanked her for being a second mom and others just sat, held her hand and cried.
At her memorial service over 25 grandchildren and great grandchildren took the stage and sang “Give me Jesus.” This was my grandma’s heart. She wanted Jesus. She wanted others to know Jesus. We stepped down and a long time friend and pastor took the stage and started some open sharing time where people would get to share their memories and thoughts about this 95 year old woman. He began with a story, “The church had just switched to a worship band from the organ and piano. There was a drum kit and the drummer played loudly. Dorothy came up to me one day after service and said, ‘I don’t like the drums too much, but I’ve prayed too long for the youth of this community to come to know the Lord that I can not help complain. I’ll just turn my hearing aid off!” And she did. Next a rancher told the story of ranching for my grandma, he spoke of her warmth and love and the integrity she and her late husband had. Another man stood up and said, “Dorothy always took in young boy hoodlums. I am one of those boys and I came to know Jesus because of Dorothy.” Another man shared about when he was 10 and his appendix ruptured. Grandma had called an emergency prayer time at the church and together they prayed, and he lived. A woman stood up and spoke of her rough demeanor as an adolescent. Grandma had taken her in too. She came to know Jesus through grandma. Another woman shared of her afternoons with Dorothy. Can you imagine young 20somethings choosing to spend time with an 85 year old woman, just for fun. My grandma loved people. She loved Jesus more. For over an hour people shared stories of Grandma’s prayers, her kindness, her smile, her laugh, her honesty and the love that oozed from her.
Grandma knew Jesus. She lived a life full of his love and gave that love away to everyone she encountered. It was like breathing to her.
I think when we know Jesus, love comes a bit more naturally. It is my hope that I too would know Jesus and love him so deeply that if I make it to 95, I would not be found alone counting down my days in self-pity and loneliness, but that my hospital room with be filled with those I loved and prayed for daily until the very end.
(In total my grandma prayed for nearly 1500 people a week, by name, and with purpose. Since her leaving us, I know of several people who have decided that they needed to start praying more and pick up where she left off. Her death is actually increasing prayer all over the world!)
What kind of stories will you leave behind? How do your every day choices make a Kingdom difference? Share a story of a person you know who’s life left stories of Kingdom good.