The next day, my mother and her siblings worked to clean out Grandma's apartment and fairly divide her valuable and sentimental belongings. I was tasked with going through Grandma's desk and files. A doer to the end, Grandma had print-outs and instructions on new embroidery patterns, family history research strategies, speaking Spanish, and launching a new business. I found thank-you notes from friends, love notes from Grandpa, and dozens of cards from her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. I went through files of notes, journal entries, church talks, and half-written poems from the last 60 years.
One of my favorite gems was this:
A slip of onionskin paper on which someone typed this little poem. Grandma apparently felt it worth keeping for many years.
Because here's the truth: Grandma's life was not a bed of roses. Her marriage began with a husband at war. Her oldest daughter fell seriously ill. Her infant daughter died after just three hours of life, more because of an administrative snafu than real medical need, and misguided hospital staff never allowed Grandma or Grandpa to ever see that baby. Then Grandma herself fell ill. Doctors said she may never walk again, and for years her children had to do for each other what their mother couldn't. Her oldest son went through a challenging period of rebellion.
This was the family's state when the missionaries first knocked on her door. She followed the gospel not with a naive belief that it would make life perfect, but with first-hand knowledge of the illness, disappointment, and grief of mortal life--all of which can be truly mediated only through knowledge of Jesus Christ, and the rest, light, and grace he offers.
Grandma's funeral program included this scripture:
Come unto me,
all ye that labour and are heavy laden,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you,
and learn of me...
and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.