A few weeks ago, we were laughing at a Facebook post that our daughter, Amanda, posted about one of her twin 7 year olds, Izzy. It went like this:
Izzy: “What’s your name?”
Amanda : “Mommy”
Izzy: “No, your other name, what other people call you.”
Amanda: “Other people?”
Izzy: “Yeah, ya know the other people you see ALL DAY LONG”
Amanda: “Are you asking what people at work call me?”
Izzy: “Yesssssssss!!!! Oh, right, they call you Manda because you’re not their Mommy! 😂😂😂
We got a laugh out of that one! It took me back some 61 years, as I was about six and my Mother and I had finished our daily chores, and were sitting on the glider on the front porch late one afternoon. I asked her a similar question, “Mommy, why do some people call you Grace?” She said, “because that’s my name. When I was born, Grandma and Papa named me Grace; just like Daddy and I named you Candace, we call you Candy.” She went on to say, “Some people call me Grace, some other people call me Gracie.” Oh, I get it!
We laughed because she told me that because my Papa (his name was Bus Crookshank) owned an Auto Parts store in town, some kids in High School called her Greasy Crankshaft! Oh, I thought that was so funny, and we laughed and laughed about that.
Over the years, I’ve always loved the name Grace. When I think of the meaning of Grace, I think of beauty and eloquence, or poise and beauty. She was all of that and more. She lived up to her name. Of course, I also think of the Grace of God. In the Biblical sense, Grace means unmerited favor of God and us not getting what we deserve. How grateful I am for His Grace!
In 2009, my Mother lived near Pittsburgh, and John and I lived and ministered in Connecticut. Mom was 83, had some health issues, and she had just had lost her husband. I tried to visit her every 6-8 weeks, but it was challenging to work full time. John and I invited her to move in with us. That was a hard decision for her because her friends, her church family, everything she had ever known was where she lived.
We talked on the phone almost every day, and one night she called me and said, “alright, I’ll come to live with you – can you come tomorrow?” WHAT??
I made arrangements to drive down to get her a few days later. In the meantime, she gave her notice where she had an apartment that she would be moving. When I got there, I contacted a moving company, got boxes, packed up her stuff, did banking, and took her to visit friends. Her house sold that week. It had been on the market for a while, and things were moving along.
God took care of all the details. Finally, a few days after I had arrived, we set out on the journey to her new home. We had a nice car ride, I had created a playlist of her favorite songs, and she used her earphones (unknown to her). She never knew there were so many coffee stops; we reminisced of many things along the way. We talked almost the whole distance. There were many adventures along the way, much like Lucy and Ethel Mertz, and we laughed and laughed.
We made it safely to Connecticut. She was at her new home for the first time. The movers delivered her furniture the next day, and we transformed our living room into her space, and one of the bedrooms became hers. The rest of her belongings went into storage. It wasn’t easy all of the time, but it was one of the greatest joys of my life to serve my Mother daily as she had done for me for many years. I worked from home at that time, so we had a reasonable amount of time together, and it became increasingly evident that we had made the right decision at the right time.
Our church family enfolded her into their loving embrace, and she made friends quickly and easily. She went out to lunch, walker in tow. Her cell phone allowed her to call other family and friends quickly, so she was contented, safe, and happy.
After about a year, she fell ill and had to be hospitalized and then moved to rehab and eventually a nursing home.
One day in mid-January of 2013, she was hospitalized and wasn’t doing well. I visited her daily. One Friday night, John and I went together to visit her. We expected to see my ashen-colored Mother in the hospital bed as she had been for days. Much to our surprise, she was sitting up in bed, fully awake, and had a magnificent glow on her face. We sat beside her in the window-side of the room and started talking. She kept glancing out the window and shaking her head. She eventually said, “isn’t that beautiful.” Looking out at sunset, we also noticed how beautiful it was, but she saw much more than we could see. She kept repeating her awe at the beauty that was attracting her in the sight of the sunset. Her following words were rather shocking to me. “I’m going there.” She went on to say that she knew her time was finished and was would be going.
Grace was very lucid and articulate in the pure knowledge that she would soon be going to her new home. John 14 became alive to me through her that day “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.”
Just then, as though on cue from God, her doctor walked into the room. She was there to tell Mom that she wanted her to have some blood. Mom declined, told her she loved her and that her new Home was almost ready for her to enjoy. She had a private discussion with her doctor and moved to a hospice room. This all was happening so fast!
I took a family leave from work and sat with Mom in her room. People came to visit, and Mom was radiant and happy over the next few days, and then she turned inward to wait. Her favorite nurse came in two hours before her shift to paint my Mother’s fingernails and toenails. The nurse’s act was one of the most humble acts of love, and that touched me in a very impactful way. Grace was always so well kept.
While alone with my Mother a few days later, although she was no longer talking, I know that she heard me by the way she would squeeze my hand. I sang to her some of her favorite hymns. Those of you that know me know that I can’t carry a tune in a bucket. However, during those last couple of days, even my ears couldn’t believe the beautiful music that was finding its way out of my mouth and heart to my Mother and God’s ears. “May it be a sweet, sweet sound in your ear.” I was, without a doubt, standing on holy ground in that hospice room. Jesus would be coming soon to take her to her new Mansion.
On Friday, the 8th of February, we had a big snowstorm. I was sitting with Mom in the hospice room, and John called me and said that the roads were getting bad. I understood. I said to Mom, “Mom, the roads are getting bad in the snowstorm, and I know you want me to be safe. I’m going to go home, but I’ll be back in the morning. If I don’t see you, then, I WILL see you later. I Love You”. She squeezed my hand with her freshly painted fingernail polish for the last time. Her forever Mansion and Home that she had looked forward to her whole life was ready for her. The promise was becoming a reality.
As I think back nine years ago last week when Grace’s Home was ready, I think about making room in our hearts for another kind of Grace.
In these times, there is discord, anxiety over the pandemic, job loss, and negativity. We need to be extra kind and give others a break. We don’t know their stories or what they’re going through in their lives.
The living God that we worship today is alive and living in our hearts. What better time than Lent to clean some rooms of our hearts and fill them with His Grace and love for others. I’m reminded of the familiar hymn, Amazing Grace.
“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now am found
Was blind but now I see
Was Grace that taught my heart to fear
And Grace, my fears relieved
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed
Through many dangers, toils and snares
We have already come
T’was Grace that brought us safe thus far
And Grace will lead us home
And Grace will lead us home
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost but now am found
Was blind but now I see
Was blind, but now I see”
Yes, Grace Morgan, my Mother, relieved my fears and helped me see when I was blinded, and got me through many toils and snares along the way. Now it’s our turn to share with others about another kind of Grace that was given to all of us by God that allows us to forgive, be patient and kind with others, and love unconditionally.
Be blessed to be a blessing to others,