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Shot Of The Day

Restoration

This is the oldest picture I have of my Grandma — Margaret Reeves Gallagher. She’s the little girl — next to her mother, my Great Grandmother. The image was in pretty bad shape when I got it. This is my best attempt at a restoration. And restoration is the story I have to tell today about my 91 year old Grandma.

My Grandma is a testimony to the fact that GOD uses imperfect people to bring perfection to others. She’s a southern woman. Deep southern drawl. Sweet tea with real sugar and lots of it. Lard and homemade biscuits. Hominy and grits. She taught me how to cook southern and how to love old people. She says my name like this – Kaaa – uuu – thy. It has three syllables in her mouth. That’s how I know it’s her when she calls. In her younger days, she was a social worker in nursing homes. When I was a kid, she’d take me to work with her during summer vacation. The places she worked wouldn’t be considered hotels or “assisted living” facilities. They smelled like urine and some of the residents were tied to their beds so they wouldn’t get hurt or wander away. She walked into that nursing home like it was the Taj Mahal, which made me strangely unafraid of being surrounded by the nearness of death. She didn’t seem to smell the urine, or at least if she did, she didn’t act like it. I was 9 or 10 when I used to go to work with her in the summers. I definitely smelled it. But there was something about the way she ignored it that was so beautiful and worthy of imitation. So I copied her. Or at least I tried. Like a compass locked on true north, she gravitated toward the same types of rooms. The ones with the residents who had nobody. No family. No friends. No visitors. No hope. And she just loved them. Right where they were. If you ever asked her why, she wouldn’t hesitate to tell you. She was bold and vocal about the “why” of her life. Because that’s what Christ had done for her. He loved her when her life was a wreck and was out of control. Loved her when her actions weren’t pretty or presentable. She was forgiven much so she loved much. She gave love in that place when it didn’t make any sense at all. When my dad committed suicide in 1974, she turned her love on me and my sister with the determination of an Olympic athlete. We were her mission. Her life. Her finish line. She wasn’t perfect. Not by a long shot. And part of the rebellious teenager in me sometimes thought she was just making up for her past or for the guilt that suicide brings. We all have one, right? A past. But there was a part of her transformation and love that couldn’t be explained by guilt or regret or an attempt to make up for something. An action way beyond the desire to just be a good person. Humans aren’t capable of that type of love without grace. Without something divinely invasive. Without help.

My Grandma died this morning peacefully in her sleep. And the promise of her faith and mine is that she is now fully restored in the presence of the living GOD... no pain, no suffering, no disease, no longing, no wondering. She is fully alive with her Creator. She is restored.

I love you Grandma. Your Kaaauuuthy.

Posted: 2 February 2010