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Tribute to My Grandmother

My sweet grandmother went to heaven in February  2007 at age 96, she would be 100 this week. Hundreds attended her funeral with glowing testimonies of her Christian work, dedication, and loving spirit.

Enda Ellis

My grandmother would have been 100 years old this week.

She was the kindest, most loving, giving person I have ever known. Several people who came from all over the state said she never said a negative thing about anyone. Every nurse that cared for her made a point to tell me she never complained and always smiled no matter what pain or discomfort she was experiencing. There are no words in this earthly language for me to adequately express the love I have for her and felt from her.

  1. My grandmother was the youngest graduate of Salvation Army Officer’s School in history at age 17. She worked with the Salvation Army Home League for over fifty years. She followed the motto of the Home League: ‘I will live a pure life in my house …’ (Psalm 101:2b). She was buried in her Salvation Army uniform. The banner that draped the coffin said, “Promoted to Heaven.
  2. Grandma is the reason I know Jesus. She told me Bible stories and took me to church. But mainly she showed me the unconditional love of Christ. She helped me memorize Scripture (and the capitals of 49 states). My Grandmother was a prayer warrior. Throughout my life, in unexpected times, I’ve felt a special grace around me and I know it was from her prayers. I always knew I could depend on her over the years to lift up me, my children and grandchildren.
  3. Grandma played the piano and loved to sing. She had throat problems and couldn’t sing well but she made up for it in enthusiasm. She bounced as she played hymns. Every song I can think of that I taught my children and they taught to their children — from Jesus Loves Me, Deep and Wide, The B-I-B-L-E, Jacob’s Ladder, This Little Light of Mine, Jesus Loves the Little Children, This is My Father’s World, .to Onward Christian Soldiers — were taught to me by my grandmother.
  4. The best memories of growing up were at Grandma’s house in Florida. I lived with my grandparents in a two-room cabin (combination living room/dining room/kitchen/bedroom and a tiny bathroom) from ages two to five. Poppy poured a concrete walkway from the cabin to the lake and wrote “Robin’s Roost” in the wet cement. (It is still there today). While they lived in the cabin they built a large home next door as they could afford it. It took many years (they bought one door or truck load of bricks each pay day). When the 2000-square-foot house was complete it was completely paid for.
  5. Later visits to my grandparent’s house included lots of home cooking, bedtime stories, beautiful flower gardens and citrus trees, Cracker Jacks, M & Ms, and playing with the border collie (they always had a border collie — five that I remember in my lifetime). My absolute best memories are of the lake — long exhausting days of swimming and/or boating and fishing. After an early, busy morning we all collapsed in lawn chairs for afternoon naps on the lovely screened porch that ran the length of the house. The breeze of the lake mingled with the smell of constant blooming flowers was like a sleeping pill.
  6. In the early 70’s my grandparents bought a home in North Carolina and lived there, but wintered in Florida. I married in 1972 and went to North Carolina to live near my grandparents. We attended church and Bible studies together. Grandma taught me to plant and grow vegetables. For several years I helped them plant, maintain and harvest a garden at their home. Later, as my family grew, the family garden was moved to my home. I have wonderful memories of hours on the porch watching children play while snapping beans or shucking corn. Grandma taught me to can and freeze almost any vegetable. She taught me to make jelly, jam or preserves from apples, plums, peaches, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries. She taught me how to pickle cucumbers and watermelon rinds. She taught me to make delicious buttermilk biscuits.
  7. The seeds my Grandmother planted in me – her love of Christ and God’s Word and her love for the Jews — continue to grow today. Grandma introduced me to Corrie Ten Boom, Phillip Keller, Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand, various missionaries, and others when I was a teenager. I was horrified to find out the Holocaust happened in my mother’s lifetime. These small seeds developed a passion in me for the history of the Jews. I began promoting the books about the Christian’s Hebrew heritage in the homeschool community twenty years ago. The fruit from these seeds she planted can be found in my life, my children’s lives, my grandchildren’s lives, the books I’ve written and my websites.

My Grandmother’s Final Lesson to Me

When you get a call about a loved one in ill health in another state, it seems heartless to even have to have to think twice about being there for them. But the reality is alternatives must to be considered. We received a call that Grandma had possibly had a stroke. She was unable to talk and was in and out of consciousness. We had the same thing happen in May last year (see My Grandmother’s Lesson) and we stayed by her side for a month. We just weren’t sure we could afford another trip. My husband and I prayed about it and waited on the Lord for an answer.

Three days later I woke with the feeling it was time to go to Florida. My husband immediately agreed (when it is from God you and your spouse will have the same answer.) We left that day and arrived at 9:00 a.m. the next day. The hospice nurse was sitting with Grandma who was lying very still and quiet. I went to her bedside. Her stunning blue eyes grew wide and she began to make guttural noises trying to talk to me. She knew who I was; I could tell she had been waiting for me. She tried to talk for over thirty minutes before I convinced her that I knew what she was trying to say and that I wouldn’t leave her. She calmed down and drifted to sleep. The hospice nurse told me she hadn’t made any sounds or recognized anyone for several days!

I spent the next day with her while she drifted in and out of sleep. My mother, aunt and I sat with her reading Scripture, singing her favorite hymns and sharing stories. Her eyes were open but it was unclear if she knew who we were. She went to be with the Lord around 5:00 p.m. I will never forget the precious moments we had together the previous morning where I know she was saying she had been waiting for me and she loved me. Years before she became ill she told me repeatedly to remember Ecc. 7:1 The day of one’s death is better than the day of one’s birth. I knew she was saying that to me again.

At the funeral when I looked at her body I knew I was looking at an empty shell. Her body remained but she was gone to be with Jesus. I realized how blessed I was to be with her in her final hours. I thanked God for leading us at just the right time. My grandmother’s final lesson for me is nothing is too insignificant, to take to the Lord in prayer and His timing is perfect. God is never late. He who created this universe from nothing, who sees the end from the beginning, who is, in Himself, all wisdom and knowledge, works all things out perfectly at the right time. It may not be “in our time,” In His perfect time Yahweh will accomplish His divine purpose. “He has made everything beautiful in its time.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11 ). God leads us step by step, moment by moment if we will listen. Afterwards, when we look back in hindsight we discover how God led us God uses important moments of our lives to lead us in His will through life. When you pray about a difficult decision God will answer and you will know in your deepest being, in your heart of hearts, what God is calling you to do. Our job is to pray, listen, and obey.

Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.

(Rom. 12:1-2).

In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

(Proverbs 3:6)

Mother’s Day 2007

Early this morning my husband and I took my boys fishing. The smell of the lake and the feel of the lake breeze brought back memories of those happy days with my grandparents and I thanked God again for the blessed, precious memories and influence they had on me. I am so happy to know grandma is in heaven with a new strong perfect body. And I know that she is doing something she always wanted to do –worshiping God with a beautiful singing voice.

Rest in Peace, Grandma. I can’t wait to see you again in your beautiful new home!

Robin Sampson

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