I wish everyone could meet my grandma.
This picture was taken on a recent trip to visit the graves of my grandfather and uncle, both of whom I never met. My grandma lost both her husband and son within two years of each other. This was yet another example of the pain and traumatic experiences that shaped so much of her life. She has lived alone for at least the last 20 years and for the longest time was completely consumed by alcoholism and rarely left her house to do much more than buy more vodka. She wasn’t a lady my brother and I enjoyed spending time with growing up. In fact, we used to often joke that my mom would send us to grandma’s house as punishment because that is precisely like what it felt like on the weekends we stayed there.
However, about three years ago, after a doctor gave her an ultimatum: alcohol or death, my grandma began to drink less and live more. My mother also moved in with my grandma, along with my dog, who is her companion for most of the day, so that she can be looked after. Since this time, I have witnessed one of the most radical transformations in a human being that I ever thought possible. We sit down now and have long-winded conversations about how she met my grandfather and moved from Rochester, N.Y. to live the California dream. She tells me about speakeasy bars and all the trouble she got into being the baby of a large family growing up during the Great Depression. We even play the occasional game of Yahtzee or dominoes where she shouts hilarious things like, “I’m not too proud for a nickel!” while wearing a blanket held together with a clothespin, simulating a cape. I see how much these chats and games mean to her, she even keeps a sack of extra change in a drawer, ready to gamble the minute I walk in the door. Through her I have witnessed the effects of isolation and the desperate desire for moments of intimacy.
Since moving to Seattle, I have come to appreciate companionship like never before. The Bible has much to say about community and I am beyond thankful for the way in which people here have guided, lead, and modeled how God designed us to be. We are beyond thankful and in constant awe of God’s grace through our church body. It will be, by far, the hardest thing to leave behind when we move. However, I am excited to take what I have learned and apply it to relationships that have been put on hold due to distance. Time to break out the Yahtzee box, Grandma. We’re coming back soon.