How do you distill a life into words on a screen?
That’s the thought I have as I write this today. Last week Josh’s grandmother, Caroline, known to us as “Amma” died due to complications following a stroke. We spent most of last week traveling to and from Virginia, going the viewing and the funeral.
Amma was someone I looked up to, despite having known her only nine years. I have often said I want to model my old age after the way she lived hers, if at all possible. She was energetic, hospitable, and always serving. When visited, she’d be the earliest person awake, making a hot breakfast for us each morning of our stay. She would have already read her Bible and prayed, and you could tell, because she was strong in faith for the Lord. She served in her church, visited the “old folks,” exercised regularly, and just the week before her death, served and spoke at a homeless shelter. On more than one occasion, she spent months serving a ministry in New Mexico that met the needs of Native American Indians on reservations. She’d organize and cook in the kitchen, teach the Bible, and teach women work that they could do to make a living.
We last saw her the weekend of Thanksgiving. On our way home, I drove Amma from where we were staying with Josh’s aunt and uncle in Staunton back to her home in Winchester, Virginia. Josh drove her vehicle home for her. On what was to be my last conversation with Amma, we talked for about an hour and a half. I learned more of her growing up years (she was one of sixteen children), her years of service through the Church of the Brethren prior to marriage, and how she met her husband and got married. I learned of their early years of marriage as he made a living as a trucker and she made a home in a trailer and had two children in quick succession. I am glad for that conversation.
Amma shared her excitement for starting a new Bible study with the ladies of her church. So when we entered her home after her death, where everyone was hanging out prior to attending her viewing, my eyes misted with tears as I saw her Bible open on the table with her study book. It was where she left it the morning of her stroke.
I immediately captured the image, before it could be moved. It is the portrait I want to remember of Amma. It will be my last memory of her.