Over the past year or so, I've found myself saying the phrase "Lord willing" often, even if only to myself. I'm learning not to count on tomorrow or the plans I've set forth. "I'll be 37 weeks pregnant on Saturday, Lord willing." Or, "Ellery will get to meet her great-grandma Roggie in July at the family reunion, Lord willing."
I wanted so badly for Grandma Roggie, my last living grandparent, to meet my first baby. I imagined Grandma's face as she held her, full of joy at new life.
I assumed she'd make a comment about how much she reminded her of me as a baby. I'd take plenty of pictures, and I'd treasure them forever. But for whatever reason, that wasn't the will of God. Instead, last night, He decided to take her Home.
I wasn't able to say goodbye to Grandma, and because of my pregnancy, I'm unable to go be with my family to grieve. Instead I'm left here with my unborn child squirming inside, my mind filling with memories of this woman I was lucky enough to know, crying over the loss and wondering why the timing worked out the way it did. So since I'm not there to share stories with my beloved Roggie cousins, aunts and uncles, I'll write them out here.
When I think of Grandma, several things stick out above all the rest. The first is lipstick. Grandma was always wearing lipstick, and it was always Jafra. She was always very beautiful and put together, exactly how a woman selling cosmetics should be. I remember countless nights at her house, getting makeovers, playing with the new lipstick and blush and nail polish Grandma was selling. Birthdays and Christmas usually meant Jafra gifts, which were mostly appreciated, except for the year when she gave me Jafra's acne cream and all the other girl cousins got lipstick. Subtlety was not one of Grandma's strong suits.
I also think of Grandma's monkey bread, cinnamon and sugar sandwiches, and the fact that she was always cooking or baking. It was rare that she actually sat down to enjoy the meal with us, but she loved serving her family. I think her happiest moments were when we all sat around the big table in her house, eating, playing games, talking. Speaking of moments in her kitchen, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention how often Grandma said, "You order it, you eat it," whenever my cousins and I tried to go play before finishing dinner.
Another favorite memory is Grandma at the piano. I can still hear her sweet alto voice singing hymns, or leading me and Vince in songs like, "Life Without Jesus is Like a Donut," or "Come and Join the Joy Parade." I think listening to her and my mom sing in church made it so that I always drop to the low harmony when I sing.
Grandma and Grandpa had a huge tan van that fit most of their grandchildren. We took it to the beach and to the Sequoias, but it was mostly used to drive the neighborhood kids to church. Their neighborhood out behind the furniture store was full of kids from Rockford, kids who probably would have never gone to church if it wasn't for Grandma picking them up every Wednesday night. I didn't comprehend then just how significant that was, and how seriously my grandma took her job of ministering to kids. I wonder sometimes just how many lives she touched in that neighborhood. Grandma and Grandpa lived in that house on Magnolia Avenue for many years, and from the time my mom was a little girl to the time I was a little girl, she and Gramps continued to show Jesus' love to whatever children they encountered there.
I used to be embarrassed by how blunt Grandma was in talking about Jesus. Whenever I introduced her to my friends, she immediately asked if they went to church and invited them to ours. Now I see her unapologetic love for the Lord and desire for others to know Him as something I strive toward. She was truly a servant of Christ, a woman who loved and served.
And she will be greatly missed. It still hasn't quite hit me, and I keep imagining that she'll be in Porterville the next time I go visit. It's strange to think that she's gone because for all my life, she lived about five minutes away from my parents' house. I saw her at church every Sunday, she came to all my musicals and swim meets (never my dance recitals though, because good Baptists don't dance), and every birthday party It's hard to imagine life in Porterville without here there.
I'm so sad she's gone, and I'm so sad I couldn't be there to say goodbye. But I'm so grateful for how long I was blessed to know her, and for all that she taught me about being a woman of God.
I love you, Grandma.