Last Saturday, March 2, my beloved Nana Sue (grandmother) went to be Jesus. The Thursday and Friday leading up to her death and the days following were probably the most difficult I have had to go through to-date. Nana was active in my life, sending me texts and e-mails, calling and praying for me. My grandfather asked me to speak at her Celebration of Life service last Tuesday on behalf of the grandkids. It was my privilege to honor her in that way even though it was very difficult to get through. Below is the tribute I gave. Thank you to those who have prayed for me and my family during this difficult time. The only thing that got me through this was prayer and my belief in that God is good and is on His throne.
If Nana were here today she’d tell me, “Kristen, keep it short.” But Nana needen’t worry since Don Guthrie has already told me I have only three minutes and would be timing me.
It’s a privilege to stand here today on behalf of myself, my sister, cousins and our spouses to speak to you today about the person we knew as Nana. Immediately after Nana died I thought how my son Philip, my sister’s son Nathan, my cousin Ricky’s son Reed due the first of May, and all our other yet-to-be-born children will not have memories of our Nana. So the questions that come to us grandchildren are, “What will Nana be remembered for? What will we tell our children about her? What will be her legacy?”
First, I think we will remember how Nana never missed an opportunity to preach us a sermon. You never had to guess what Nana was thinking because she always would let us know. Her directness and bluntness were charmingly annoying but more often than not what she said was true. She told Ben before going to Cleveland that if she didn’t come back alive that he could be sad for one week but then after that he couldn’t be sad or she’d come back to haunt him. Sounds like something she’d say!
We will tell our children how our Nana loved playing games with us everything from UNO to Yahtzee to 42. If she lost, Nana would say, “Kiss. A. Pig.” But if she won, she’d shake her fists in the air and just smile. We’ll tell them how she loved to laugh at us and us at her. She’d get so tickled watching the boys make fun of the way she walked or by the quick witted comments made by Kim or Ben. She would tell us all the time, “All you want to do is laugh at me,” but she’d say it while laughing so that we knew she enjoyed it.
I think we’ll remember her sitting at the piano playing one tune after another from memory filling the house with a beautiful melody. This personally was one of my favorite things.
We’ll remember those blooper moments like Nana paying for my sister’s and mine Happy Meals at the McDonalds’ drive thru then driving away without our meals. Or that time when she bragged to Alex about how good her chocolate pudding was, but when she finally made it for him she had used lemon extract instead of vanilla extract. It tasted terrible of course and had to be thrown away immediately.
We’ll also remember to tell our children how much she loved Papa even though she fussed at him all the time. We’ll tell them how she dropped everything to go help Ben when he called her saying he was lost in downtown San Antonio. How she spent hours helping Ricky apply for college or how she stayed with Ricky at the hospital when he had brain studies. Or how she came to the hospital when Kim gave birth to Nathan and wouldn’t leave but stayed all night those first hours of Nathan’s life that he was so sick. How she came to our graduations and weddings; how she never forgot our birthdays; how she’d always send me texts when she saw storms were coming to Birmingham to tell me to be safe; and how she was always praying for us. Our children will know that she loved her grandchildren, and when Philip and Nathan came along she loved them just as much. In fact, I spoke to her the night before she went into cardiac arrest. She didn’t want to talk about herself; she wanted me to tell her stories about Philip, and that’s what I did.
But these memories won’t be her legacy. No. Her legacy will be that their great-grandmother, our grandmother, loved the Lord Jesus Christ above us all and served Him faithfully. She showed us by example and by word what it meant to be a follower of Christ, to be obedient, to be a lover of Scripture and to be faithful to the local church. She demonstrated what it meant to suffer with grace. We never heard her curse God or be angry with Him for her suffering. Instead, she’d say, I’ll serve Him as much as I am able and if the Lord restores my health I’ve told Him I’d continue to serve Him.
In fact, if Nana were here today I don’t think she’d tell me to keep it short. Rather I think she’d say, “Kristen, don’t talk about me; talk about Jesus. For I’ve seen Him and have beheld His glory and beauty and nothing that the world has to offer compares to this!” So that’s what we’ll tell Philip, Nathan, Reed and any others to come that Nana’s life pointed to Jesus, and if you want to see Nana just look at Him.