Remember this Feeling – Gratitude
by Brooke Carlson

I thank my God every time I remember you. —Philippians 1:3

Since my Grandpa’s death five years ago, my family has continued to carve out time to spend with my Grandma. Though younger than Grandpa, by the last holiday season, she was well into her eighties. Then, last February, we learned that Grandma had suffered a stroke. Within a day of her hospitalization, it became clear that Grandma wouldn’t recover. My sister, a nurse-practitioner, advised that we should come sooner rather than later if we wanted to see her.

From school, I contacted each of my children, explaining that they could come or not, but they needed to be aware that if not, our Christmas visit would almost certainly be the last time they saw great-grandma. My older two opted to stay home; my youngest, Elizabeth, surprised me and said she wanted to come.

Now, I should probably tell you, my grandparents were challenging people. While an incredibly godly and faithful couple, when they attempted to impart a legacy to family, they were often more judgmental than gracious, which often led to hurt and anger. Because of this, many of us didn’t contact them or visit as often as we could’ve or should’ve. I learned through patience and practice that I could love my grandparents in their imperfections, even when I was frustrated by their words or actions, and I continued throughout my adulthood to cultivate a relationship with them. This history did make preparing to say good-bye to our family matriarch a different experience than it might be for most.

We arrived late. Upon entering the hospital room I was shocked to see that Grandma appeared to have aged fifteen years as compared to when we’d seen her just weeks earlier. I was immediately concerned that my daughter would be afraid and would not want to spend time with great-grandma or even be in her hospital room.

I couldn’t have been more wrong. She immediately sat down next to Grandma, and took her hand. Over our time in those days with family, when we were not at the hospital, Elizabeth asked when we were going back to see Grandma. She constantly asked for time to sit with Grandma and hold her hand. Looking at my then seven-year-old daughter holding her eighty-eight-year-old great grandmother’s hand I realized that though our family had come about it the hard way, the legacy my grandparents had sought to build had come to fruition. This next generation of our family saw the value of good works, of serving people with your heart and hands, and the importance of family legacy, without any of our interpersonal struggles weighing her down. All she knew was that as Grandma was about to leave us, she would be there to say good-bye. For that, I am truly thankful, and can honestly say I thank my God every time I remember you.

Is there a time when you were truly grateful to God for someone?