23 August 2008
The Celebration of a Life
I recently made a trip down to my hometown in South Louisiana for a few days. My grandmother turned 100 years old! Can you believe it? She's seen the Titanic sink, the coming of electricity, the First and Second World Wars, the Great Depression, the Roaring 20's, the first flight, the electronic revolution, the Civil Rights era, the Vietnam War, the Korean War, the assassination of JFK, the Cold War, and the fall of the Soviet Union, just to name a few.
Her life has been a picture of fulfillment with her marriage to my grandfather to the birth of twelve children. She has 118 direct descendants, including children, grandchildren, great-grand children, and great-great-grand children.
Her 100th birthday was on 10 August, which happened to be a Sunday. There was a special mass said for her at the local church and just about all of the family was there. The church was full. At the end of mass, Father said a special blessing over her, and he attended the party afterward. There were tents and fans set up outside in the 100-degree heat. Food and desserts and beverages abounded. When it was time for the birthday cake, the children and grandchildren crowded into the kitchen and sang happy birthday followed by the blowing out of the candles. My cousin wrote an article about her in the local paper, and, in it, she cited Proverbs 31:10-31:
"When one finds a worthy wife, her value is far beyond pearls. Her husband, entrusting his heart to her, has an unfailing prize. She brings him good, and not evil, all the days of her life. She obtains wool and flax and makes cloth with skillful hands. Like merchant ships, she secures her provisions from afar. She rises while it is still night, and distributes food to her household. She picks out a field to purchase; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. She is girt about with strength, and sturdy are her arms. She enjoys the success of her dealings; at night her lamp is undimmed. She puts her hands to the distaff, and her fingers ply the spindle. She reaches out her hands to the poor, and extends her arms to the needy. She fears not the snow for her household; all her charges are doubly clothed. She makes her own coverlets; fine linen and purple are her clothing. Her husband is prominent at the city gates as he sits with the elders of the land. She makes garments and sells them, and stocks the merchants with belts. She is clothed in strength and dignity, and she laughs at the days to come. She opens her mouth in wisdom, and on her tongue is kindly counsel. She watches the conduct of her household, and eats not her food in idleness. Her children rise up and praise her, her husband, too, extols her: 'Many are the women of proven worth, but you have excelled them all.' Charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting; the woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her a reward of her labours, and let her works praise her at the city gates."
My grandmother's life has epitomized that passage. She has remained strong through difficult times, has endured the birth of 12 children, the loss of all her brothers and sisters, the loss of her husband, the loss of one child, the loss of a grandchild, and the loss of two great-grandchildren. She has met each challenge with faith and strength. She has maintained her faith and increased her devotion to the Lord throughout her life, offering prayer and devotions for those in need. She has been a wonderful example for me to follow and I aspire to have her depth of faith and love for my family. It has been fulfilling simply to be a part of the life of such a wonderful woman. She is a remarkable woman, indeed, and I have been very blessed to call her my grandmother.