I told you yesterday, but each time my grandmother Verna sent us a card or letter, she would sign it, “Jesus loves you so do I.”
By now you know that I grew up on gravel roads.
It is a lovely house on a hill. In fact, the space (not house) was my mother’s grandparent’s property. And, just across the way via cornfield, sat my grandparent’s house. As a bird flies, it was probably not even a mile, but as we flew (walked), it was right around the mile mark.
We moved out in the “country” to this place I’ve always called home in 1990, when I was seven. While the house was being built, we spent a few months living “in town” in a rental home. But then, to save money while the house was in its final stages, we moved in with my grandma for awhile. My grandfather had passed away a few months prior, so it was just us and grandma Verna.
And for the next almost 20 years, I would remain uber-close to grandma Verna. In fact, that love and our admiration for grandma are the very things Ryan and I wish for for our own children and parents.
My Best Memories
My best memories of grandma Verna are etched in moments out there on those gravel roads.
I remember the days when I was sick, and couldn’t go to school. Almost always, I’d end up at Grandma’s house. She would help mend us, and one of the things we looked forward to was her homemade chicken noodle and dumpling soup paired with strawberry shakes. It was so good that I’m fairly certain I faked being sick sometimes just to go to Grandma’s for the comfort food. My goal now is to re-create those dumplings in a way I can still enjoy them.
My Grandma was a great cook. At Christmas time, she made her classic Mocha Cakes, which are another recipe I’ll make a mission to perfect on the gluten free. When she moved into the nursing home, my mom asked if I wanted a set of her old, little forks. I, of course, took them, and I use them in a lot of food photography today.
She instilled my love for old, kitchen towels, and I once wrote about it via “Life is Too Short to Stuff Tradition in a Bottom Kitchen Drawer.” My words from the post couldn’t ring truer today,
Even more importantly, I want to carry on the love, conversations and authentic Midwestern values displayed in their kitchens. Oh, what I wouldn’t give for a day of cooking and baking in my kitchen with my Grandmothers.
Grandma Verna was so proud of her children and grandchildren. Her fridge was covered head-to-toe with newspaper clippings, photos, and anything else that surrounded her with us.
She came to almost every single school event we had. She never missed a concert, and she loved music.
I attended most Sunday church services with my grandma because my mother was the pianist at the church, so while she played, my brother and I usually sat with Grandma.
Grandma was funny. I can still hear her laugh while nodding her head. She once was telling my cousin Bill and I a story about a mouse that came out from behind the garbage can and scared her. While telling us the story she was holding a box of baking soda. She was so into the story that when she got to the part where the mouse scared her, the baking soda flew out of the box, creating a cloud of white powder in the air. The three of us laughed forever.
When Ryan and I got married, she made fast friends with one of my best friends, Missy. At the Groom’s Dinner, they enjoyed a beer together and Missy adored Grandma’s fun-loving, spirited personality. Grandma enjoyed her beer! She always enjoyed a good glass of beer.
Quite honestly, I could go on and on and on. My grandmother was a staple to my life each and every single day on those gravel roads.
But of all the things my grandmother ever said to me, to us, nothing might ever be clearer than “Jesus loves you, so do I.”
Jesus Loves You So Do I
My mother recently told me that grandma Verna told her when she gets to heaven she has a lot of questions to ask God.
You see, some people talk about God, about their faith, about the church, and the Bible.
Grandma Verna lived it, day in and day out.
Rarely would we enter Grandma’s house without her Bible open on the table. And she didn’t just read about God. No, her heart bled for God. Grandma always gave money to anyone and everyone she thought needed it, and because I know about some of the people and organizations she gave to, it was typically always in the name of Jesus…..what would He want her to do with her money?
I don’t know for sure, but I doubt there was ever a day in Grandma’s life when she did not spend time with the Lord in her Bible.
I believe that what Grandma knew was a love so incredible and powerful that her only way to show those in her life how much she loved them was to display it through the love of Jesus Christ. And in this, she would write,
Jesus loves you, so do I.
The words are so simple but so powerful.
My children will never know grandma Verna. She was already in the nursing home when we got Samarah, and the first time Grandma met Samarah she said, “Oh, she is so cute. She looks just like you.” My heart melted. Grandma didn’t know Samarah was adopted, and she didn’t “see” that Samarah and I really look nothing alike.
But each time I brought Samarah home to Minnesota, we always went to see Grandma.
This past July, Grandma also got to meet Isaiah, albeit short. That day, her face was mostly emotionless. I saw two smiles from her that day, though. Once at my Aunt Marcia, and the other time at Isaiah. I will remember that for Isaiah forever.
Today I am leaving to go to Minnesota. Grandma’s wake is tomorrow night, and she will be laid to rest on Friday.
Grandma went to heaven, there is no doubt in my mind about that.
If I could tell her one more thing, it would simply be,
Jesus loves you, so do I.