“She’s gone” were the words I heard when my mother called me on the phone crying, around 6:20pm on December 14, 2016. Although my family was expecting it, those words still seemed a bit hard to digest as they brought such a finality to the life of a woman well loved.
It’s been 7 weeks since my grandmother made her transition into glory. A bittersweet moment, to say the least, because at 101 she had lived a full life and I knew she was more than ready to go home. I was at peace because I knew without a shadow of a doubt that she was resting in the sweet arms of Jesus. What was comforting to me in the days and weeks afterwards was that The Lord allowed me to have two glimpses of her smiling face dancing in white, similar to a vision I saw the day of my paternal grandmother’s funeral in 1996.
Perhaps you may be able to relate to me if you have lost someone who was close to you that has had a significant impact on the kind of woman you are today. But if not, there is one thing that we all share in common, no matter where you are around the globe. We all have a:
A birth date
A death date
At the funeral, my grandmother’s niece talked about the dash (-), i.e. what happens between those two dates above, being the most important. It tells the story of how a person lived. As she so eloquently stated:
Some may forget your birthday or even the day you die, but they will never forget how you spent your dash.
Although I was at peace, it didn’t take away from the void I still felt, the ache in my heart and the questions I was left pondering. You see, Ezeminda Clarke was the glue that had held my family together for many years. She was that kind of woman. Naturally, I wondered, what would become of my family now.
Yet, even more important than that, the two most pressing questions I asked myself and that I think about more often, especially in these last few years, were:
What kind of woman are you?
What will people have to say at your funeral, Charlene?
Every person that spoke at both her services spoke of the kind of woman she was as if each of them had swapped stories and compared notes beforehand. However, many who spoke had never met the others that shared and yet each person used the same words and phrases to describe her and they did it consistently.
There were 6 things (1 of which I added) that stood out as characteristics she possessed and spoke to the kind of woman she was, not only to her family, but to everyone she encountered. These were the things I have pondered as I reflect on the answer to the pressing questions I have for my own life.
Woman of waring (in prayer)
Anyone who knows me knows how important my faith is to me. And if you have spent any length of time with me, you will also know that both my grandmothers played an important role in shaping the kind of woman I am today. They were both women of faith and prayer. The cliche’, “Thank God for praying grandmothers” is my personal testimony.
Almost every person that spoke talked about how my grandmother loved to pray. I, myself, can remember countless times when I would hear her in the kitchen talking out loud to herself. When I asked who she was talking to, she said matter of factly, “I’m talking to the Lord.” She rose faithfully every morning to spend time with the Lord in prayer, often before the sun rose. It was her daily routine and she didn’t stray from it because she recognized that her battles were fought and won in prayer.
When anyone would come to visit her, she always wanted to pray with them before they left and bid them a safe journey. Two of her favorite phrases were, “God go wid you” and “I will see you again, if life spare” in her Jamaican patois.
Woman of wisdom
My grandmother understood the psalmist’s prayer for the Lord to “teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). She lived what James spoke of-‘that we don’t know the least thing about what will happen tomorrow [so we ought] to say, ‘if the Lord is willing we shall live and we shall do this or that thing'” (James 4:13-15). She knew that tomorrow wasn’t promised. This wisdom came from her reverential fear of the Lord.
Naturally, we take for granted the precious minutes, hours and days we have been granted on this earth, often planning vacations, our next job opportunity or career move, when we will get out of debt or even what we will eat tomorrow. By no means do I think there is anything wrong with thinking about these things. However, death has a way of causing you to put things in perspective and prioritize what is really important, thus doing your best to make the most of each moment.
Woman of worship
“What a friend we have in Jesus“, “What a mighty God we serve” and “On Christ the solid rock I stand” were just a few of the many song lyrics that one could always hear rolling off of my grandmother’s tongue any time you would see her. It wasn’t uncommon for her to break out in song in the middle of a conversation as she thought about her Savior. Everyone at her church knew Deaconess Clarke as the woman who loved to worship and praise the Lord. Yet, that lifestyle was birthed out of a joy that only Jesus could provide for her. In the midst of many hardships that many wouldn’t automatically be able to tell she endured, she learned to continuously “bless the Lord at all times” and “make a joyful noise” unto Him.
This was the kind of woman she was.
Tomorrow, in Part 2: What Kind of Woman Are You, I will list the finally 3 characteristics of the kind of woman my grandmother was as well as the kind of woman you and I can become. For now:
As you ponder this season of waiting, the kind of woman you are currently and the kind of woman you want to be/become, how are you choosing to spend your dash (-)?
Photo credit: WordSwag by CJP, Daniel Shoy
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