7/1/17 On Knowing Grandma
As grandparents go, I only knew my maternal grandmother. Born in the 1880s, Mary Francis Magdelene Wormly Delacy Jennings was an extremely fair-skinned African-American woman who had seven pregnancies, suffered through four still-births, and mourned the deaths of two husbands. My dad packed her along to California when he decided to move my mom (her only daughter) and two of her grandkids (my brother and sister) all the way across the country from Maryland. She was the quiet presence who listened to The Biola Hour radio program in her room, ironed sheets, and made our beds. She would let Cissi (my best friend) and me comb her completely white hair into all kinds of styles that looked amazing to us. (That’s my grandma in the coat in the front row beside me in the knee-hi socks when I was 10.)
The manor in which Grandma influenced my life the most was in the area of music. When she recognized I would pick out little melodies rather than just bang on the piano keys, so started paying for me to take piano lessons. Starting when I was five-years-old, I took eleven years of classical piano lessons, starting with John Thompson’s Teaching Little Fingers to Play, and progressing all the way to playing the masterpieces by Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, etc. Grandma sat through every 30-minute daily practice as if she were in a box seat at Carnegie Hall until she moved into the swanky senior citizens’ complex our church built. And oh my, my annual piano recitals might as well have been a command performance at the Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles or at Australia’s Opera House.
The only other things I know about my grandmother are her partial Native-American background, her inability to fully use one of her arms, the fact that she had sisters who lived in a fourth floor walk-up in a Harlem, New York tenement, and the fact that despite her intelligence, she was only allowed to received up to a fifth grade education. I knew she loved me, and hers was the first funeral of a family member I ever attended. I was twelve.
I wish I had known more about my grandmother. Knowing about her life wasn’t important to me then, but my ancestral background is very important to me now that I’m a grandmother myself. I not only want to know my own roots, but I desire for my grandchildren not only to know about me, but to actually know me, feel what I was all about, and by proud of the legacy I’m leaving for them. At least, whenever I play the piano, I can recall all the enjoyable hours I’ve spent at the keyboard, and know that it was my sweet grandmother who gave them to me.
God must have felt awful realizing His children had forgotten the wonderful works He had done for them. Psalm 78:40-42 tells us that the people’s disobedience and forgetfulness actually upset God and limited what else He could do for them. The passage reads:
“How often they provoked Him in the wilderness, and grieved Him in the desert! Yes, and again and again they tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel. They did not remember His power…”
Be thankful for Grandma and Grandpa, and their parents, and their parents, etc. And today, let’s make it a point to remember and be thankful for God who made the past possible. No matter what the circumstances were, only the exact pairings in each generation could have led to the person each of us became. And whether it was bad or good, the past led up to the present in which we stand, and because of God’s grace, we can move into a future of favor in His sight.
©2017 Sharon Norris Elliott. Feel free to forward this devotion in its entirety, including this copyright line. Leave comments, ask questions, read past devotions, or subscribe to receive these devotions daily in your e-mail at www.sanewriter.wordpress.com. Also, periodically check in at www.LifeThatMatters.net to see what’s going on in the ministry.
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