I just fell off my no-sugar wagon into a tall glass of sweet tea and although I know I’ll regret the sugar (I have reluctantly admitted to myself that all this sugar intake is causing energy dips that are just not working any more) I won’t regret the flash of memory the tea served up with all that sugar. With one sip I was with my Grandma Rankin, maybe five years old, basking in her love in her sunny, warm, little kitchen. Within minutes of arriving to visit her she would click-clunk the handle on the door of her ‘icebox’ and pull out a cold glass pitcher of sweet tea.
Something about being stored in glass, and being there, waiting for us, made that tea, poured into a little clear juice glass that perfectly fit my hand, richer than the tea that sat in our refrigerator at home. It was like a pitcher of love, always on hand for us. There is a commercial sweet tea right now that has that flavor and I think of her every time I drink it, in fact, every time I see it in the grocery store. Thank you Gold Peak.
Grandma Rankin was a compulsive cleaner so you can imagine how immaculate her house was.
Or maybe you can’t.
She repainted her walls every spring. My dad used to say that her rooms were getting smaller from the buildup of all that paint. She cleaned the gas pedal of her car with a crochet hook, which then hung in its own baggie on the neatly arranged pegboard in the garage. She used to clean and dry her leaves before bagging them up for the garbage man.
Her quirks did not bother me like they might have bothered a spouse or a son because I got to be just a grandchild. And when it works the right way, a grandmother can make a grandchild feel like the sun decided to shine just for her. Grandma Rankin didn’t have the responsibility of teaching me right from wrong or deciding on my bedtime, she just turned her love on me like a heat lamp, like the sun in fact, warming me clear to the center.
Grandma Rankin looked every inch like a grandma. She was tall and thin, given to pink gingham dresses and sensible buckle shoes, wearing silver cat glasses. She insisted that her dresses always have pockets for her Kleenex and rosary beads. For years it drove my mother crazy, trying to find dresses with pockets when buying her a Christmas or birthday present until she finally hit on the idea of buying an otherwise perfect dress (not ruffly, not flouncy, more of a long shift with a belt of the same material) and having a seamstress add a slit to either side of the dress with a lining inserted to make a pocket.
I don’t think my grandmother ever realized her daughter-in-law could be that crafty.
Just like when Grandma Rankin finally decided to move to our town to be closer and my parents looked at apartment after apartment to find one that would fill her list of requirements (ground floor, walking distance to, among other things, a grocery store, a Catholic church, and a hairdresser who specialized in the blue tints that grandmothers of that era sported).
Oh and it had to fit her budget.
Another crazy making process, one perfect place rejected after another until they found an apartment that fit every requirement except the budget. My parents struck a deal with the landlord, agreeing to pay him the extra amount every month without my grandmother ever knowing. Of course once Grandma was told the apartment had been found, at the rent she had hoped for, she triumphantly beamed at my parents. “See! I told you we could find it.” Grandma shook her head at them, bewildered by their lack of faith. They just smiled and nodded, signed their own separate contract, and for years secretly sent the extra check.
And that is love, right there.
Letting Grandma believe she was right instead of pointing out their own good deed. Grandma believed God had provided for her, and you know what? I believe He did. He just used a few of his people on the ground to get the job done.
Which is how I have come to believe God works. I think He often works through us to help those around us and we don’t even know it. We know it feels good to help someone and it feels good to be helped and maybe that is God, right there in the middle of it, getting his children to all take care of each other. We’ve all been the helpee, we’ve all been the helper. Maybe God doesn’t always come as a thundering voice from the mount, maybe sometimes He sounds just like an idea in our own head. And maybe it isn’t always dramatic, like a parting of the sea, maybe God’s love can come in the form of a rent supplement or a pocket added to a dress.