Gathering flowers for the Master's bouquet...

I don't remember the first time I met my grandmother.  Of course she has been in my life since I was born, but I can't exactly pinpoint the first memory of actually knowing she was my grandmother.  I do know that I was young.  Here are a few memories that I do have of my grandmother and grandfather not really in specific order.

I remember being about 10 years old and always going out to the farm.  This was the 40 acres of land that pretty much my whole paternal side lived on.  My grandfather had once owned a sawmill (among many other things) out there and it was the popular place to hang out back in the day.  In the middle of this 40 acre land, he built 2 big ponds with a channel that ran between them.  One we called the shallow side and one the deep side.  When we were children, we were not allowed to play on the pier that was on the deep side.  Of course though, when we were young, we never listened.  We always found ourselves doing everything we shouldn't.

With my mom and dad being divorced when I was about 2, I didn't get to grow up on the farm like all of my other cousins did.  I remember being dragged to church every Saturday night (my family didn't do Sunday morning services) when I was little with my grandparents and most of my aunts and uncles and cousins.  Of course us kids hated it.  The services would go from 7-8 o'clock all the way past midnight, sometimes even later.  It made for a very long night for us kids.  Nonetheless, we made the best of it.

Whenever I would come out to the farm, Sabrina, Kanyon, Jess and myself would always be making forts in the woods, playing hide and go seek, doing whatever we could to have fun.  We always wound up in granny's front yard underneath the apple trees or out in papal's garden.  What a garden he had.  My grandpa was a hands on kind of person.  He loved being outside and being in his garden.  Every summer, he would go on a piece of the property, that we called "the hill", and pick blackberries all day long.  He would bring home buckets of them for my grandma to make jelly with.  This was her passion.  If there is one thing my granny can do well, it's cooking.  Anyway, they were a great team.  Summers at the farm were the best.  We'd come into my granny's from playing outside and she would always have something for us to eat.  Papal would either be sitting at the table or on the couch watching the Cubs play.  He loved the Cubs!  After his health started failing and he couldn't hear, he would blare the tv, almost blowing our eardrums, but it sounded good to him.  I'm surprised you couldn't hear the sounds of Harry Caray from miles away.

I remember always sitting at the kitchen table at granny's and playing with her makeup.  She always wore Covergirl and the foundation always had a distinct smell.  I'll forever remember my grandmother by the smell of her foundation and baby powder.  She always wore house slippers and put baby powder inside them.

Before my grandfather died, I remember staying at their house over Christmas Eve and they let me sleep in between them.  I remember my grandfather telling me that there were elves in the closest making toys for Santa to bring.  Granny didn't believe in Santa so I was always torn as to who was really telling the truth.

 My grandfather passed away when I was 12 years old.  From the moment he died until my grandmother's house burnt down a couple of years ago, she never changed a thing in her bedroom.  You would walk in and still smell my grandfather.  I'm not sure how she did it.  She didn't touch his side of the bed, she didn't wash his pillow, she didn't change anything, she wanted the memory of him to last forever.  He was the love of her life and he let her know that every single day.

As I got older, I would listen to my grandma telling me all about church and Jesus.  I was young, I didn't want to listen.  But God knew she would be right by myself when I did want to listen. When I was 17 and was really dealing with conviction, I decided to start going to church.  She was right by my side.  She was right by my side as I gave my life to Christ.  She was right by my side as I sang and worshiped my Savior.  She was right by my side as we prayed before and after church, holding onto my hand.  You see, out of 19 grandchildren, I was the only one who went to church willingly.  The one thing my grandma wanted in life, was to see her children and grandchildren in church.  Nothing meant more to me than to be able to sit next to my grandmother every Sunday in church.  Just us two as everyone else and my aunts and uncles sat in the other pews.

After I went to college in Fort Wayne, I stopped going to church.  I would always have to listen to her talk to me about it when I would come home.  After I moved to South Carolina and met Gregg and started going to church again, she couldn't wait to tell me how proud of me she was.  When I would come home for visits, we would talk all night long about God and how without Him, our lives mean nothing.  I traded my Saturday nights hanging out with friends to sitting at my grandma's watching the Grand Ole Opry and other shows like Kids Say the Darndest Things and many others.  She had these vhs tapes of some singers who would play songs like "Scarlet Purple Robe", "Gathering Flowers for the Master's Bouquet" and many more.  We would listen and sing along to them all night long and wake up the next morning and head to church.  At the church that we went to, we were able to get up and testify about different things God was doing in our lives.  One time I got up and testified about how amazing it was to be able to sit with my grandmother on those weekend nights not worrying about being wasted or getting into trouble, but knowing that I was creating memories that would forever stick with me for a lifetime.

I've only been able to see my grandmother about 3-4 times a year since I moved to South Carolina.  This is probably the hardest part about living so far away from family.  Never when I moved, did I think to myself, "I will only get to see my grandmother 15-20 more times before she goes to be with Jesus."  Now the thought of maybe never getting to see her again is all too clear in my head.  You see, my grandmother is a very stubborn woman.  Her father was Polish and her mother Austrian which makes for a hardheaded child.  Must be where I get some of my traits.  :)  Anyway, if you talk to her, she will tell you that she is fine and there is nothing wrong with her.  That's not true.  My grandmother is slowly fading away even as I write this blog.  If you knew my grandmother, she never missed a Sunday church service (or a Saturday night back in the day for that matter).  For my grandmother to miss church, the town literally needed to be shut down.  I don't think she has been to church yet this year.  She has been in and out of the hospital over these past few months and things just keep getting worse and worse.  Last week she dislocated her shoulder and didn't know it until about 2 days later.  Since then, she has gotten worse.  I feel sorry for my dad who is with her almost all of her waking moments and he has to watch his mama deteriorate every day.  It's so heart breaking to talk to him on the phone.  As the youngest of 8 children, he is a mama's boy.

I will be coming home for Trent's graduation in May and I pray that sweet, dear granny will be able to hold on at least that long.  When you are young, you never think that the day will come that you will have to bury your grandparents.  They should be able to live forever.  But I know that day is coming.  And I know where my grandmother will be spending her eternity.  I wish though, that I could take away her physical pain.  I wish I could take away all of the stress that she has been put through these last few years with some of my aunts and uncles and with the loss of one of her grandchildren.  Sabrina was the first born granddaughter.  She held a special place in my grandma's heart.  And I know there isn't a second that goes by that she doesn't think about Sabrina.  I know that for a fact.

When it's time for granny to take her last breath, I wish I could be there watching her walk into Heaven's arms.  I wish I could be there at that moment that she meets Jesus face to face.  I know it will be a joyous time in Heaven when Jesus stands there saying "Welcome home My child, welcome home."

To my grandmother Irene,

I know you will never read this, but please know how much you mean to me and how much joy you have brought to my life.  I am so blessed that God chose you to by my grandmother.  I have laughed with you, I have cried with you, and I have worshiped and prayed with you.  Thank you for being an amazing woman of God who has taught me what it's like to live each day for Christ.  Please know that the day you take your last breath, will be the day that my life will never be the same.  I wish you could live forever and that there would be no more death and no more sorrow.  But I know that day is coming.  I don't know how much longer you have on this earth, but know that I pray for you everyday.  I pray that God will provide you comfort through your pain and that when the day comes, you will go peacefully into His arms.  And I know that one day, I will be with you in eternity, where there will be no tears, no more death, and no more sorrow.  We will be side by side again smiling, laughing, and singing songs for our Master.  One day we will be together again, gathering flowers for the Master's bouquet.

I love you!

Love, Tiff

 my grandma and grandpa at my parent's wedding

 waiting to be baptized

baptized in the pond that my grandfather made


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