I think about my grandmother often, but even more lately. Yesterday would’ve been her 105th birthday. It is strange to me that someone born so long ago hasn’t been gone all that many years.
I remember her last days. How she was a 100-year-old woman, warm in her bed. I still remember how thin and tiny she looked the last time I saw her. How the skin on her hand was so thin it almost wasn’t there.
This morning in church we sang a song with lyrics that brought her quickly to mind and caused tears to quickly prick my eyes.
And on that day when my strength is failing
The end is near and my time has come
Still my soul will send your praise unending
10,000 years and then forever more
- “10,000 Reasons,” Matt Redman
I know my MeMe had 10,000 reasons to praise Him. Her name, Josephine, means “Jehovah will increase.” I smile when I think of it, because in her case, it was literally true. Whenever we’d gather for holidays or birthdays, she’d remark in wonder that all those folks were there because of her and my PaPa. Seven children, 17 grandchildren, 30 great-grandchildren (at the time of her death), and even about half a dozen great-great-grandchildren.
My cousin Colleen and I both became moms around the same time. In those early days we would gratefully remind each other that at least we weren’t having to leave our little ones swaddled indoors to cry while we went out to milk cows at 4 am, and that our kids weren’t piled five to a bed, or that we didn’t have to wash our hair with rainwater.
Hers is a legacy of strength and just sheer perseverance.
And though our little Posey may not have Josephine’s blood running in her veins, this legacy is hers all the same.
We are shaped by the women who come before us, and for us mothers to daughters, we are shaped by the women who come after us as well.
I consider it a great privilege to be bookended in my life by two remarkable Josephines. One inspires me, loved me, provided for me, prayed for me, rocked me in her porch swing, my head in her lap, singing over me.
The other I have no doubt will challenge and refine me.
May I mother her well.