Ah, our sweet little Grandmother has gone home to stay. Several times over the years, didn’t we think we had lost her as she was rushed to the hospital for this or that? But even as her Schwann’s French Silk pie (did she make any of you eat that? Honestly, we were going for the door after the lengthy quilt tours, and she insisted that we eat just a sliver of this pie that was “good, it’s sooo good!”) sat thawing on her counter to bring to a family Thanksgiving meal, Grandma had gone home. By now we all know that she died lying snug in her bed, curled up with her hands under her face, as if in a pleasant dream, although her body had flu-like symptoms. Yet there was no cold hospital room, no nursing home (although she appeared to like the social life there), no long-term sick room. For that, I’m incredibly thankful and thankful of that last image of her departing life in a peaceful, gentle way.
Grandma was such a peacemaker herself that in the end, she must have negotiated with God to let Him carry her on his back across the great divide. And can you just imagine her now with Grandpa Harold, speaking in full and complicated sentences, telling him about how we’ve all (children, grandchildren, cousins, friends) grown up and how she likes Schwann’s French Silk pie because it’s absolutely delectable, and is there any of that around here in Heaven?
Imagining Grandma in Heaven is a fun activity. She acted as if heaven were here on earth a lot of the times. Remember her with flowers? Or with quilt blocks? Or, remember her at Christmas time? I have a picture of her from last year with a bow on her head and surrounded by lots of smiling great grandchildren. She was in lower heaven then as well, despite her walker-encumbered body. We brought her lots of joy because she chose the way of love all of her life.
I think of this more than anything else in relation to Grandma. Yes, she had her hobbies which she shared abundantly and stubbornly with all of us, but what I think we all will remember most is her ability to love people. People walking by at Wal-Mart that she thought that she knew (maybe she did). Women in her Sunshine Club. Neighbors. Preachers who were faithful every Sunday. Babies of all smells and sounds. Nurses and doctors in the hospital. I mean, honestly, who loved more than Cora Coble? We all have our individual stories of her love pouring over us like warm anointing oil.
Mine is going with her to Norwood’s flower nursery each Spring and choosing each other potted flowers for our birthdays. This past year, she sat in the van and pointed at the flowers for me to run and fetch for her to get a closer look at. Afterwards, we’d go eat at Sonic, and she’d look at me beaming and say, “We’re just the same! We’re just the same! We like the flowers! Yes, we do!”
It felt good to be just the same as Grandma Cora.
By being so loving herself, Grandma taught each of us how to love better. Any time, we’re giving to someone else with time or any other resources; any time, we drop grudges we have amongst ourselves; any time, we laugh and beam and stretch our hands in greetings to each other or express our love to each other in words, well, we can say that we’re the same as Grandma Cora. We’re the same!
I can’t, in conclusion, separate the fact that Grandma Cora’s love was a living embodiment of her faith in Jesus Christ whose love she was compelled by. “For Christ love compels us” says the Bible “because we are convinced that one died for all.” 2 Corinth 5:14. She was convinced of Him, she chose to allow Him room in her heart, to teach her the trade of love. She was faithful. Like Grandpa, she gave us a heritage of faith, which in some ways is a bit of a rarity these days. I can just sense her presence too wanting to know what we’ll do with something like this which is more precious than a handstitched quilt, or an exotic iris. It’s an admittance of the heart more than anything, an admittance that we can’t love like her without Christ, without all the meaning that he can bring into each of our individual lives. She would want that for us. She would want us to receive the gift of Christ this year during this holiday season. Her last gift too. We don’t have to live perfect lives hereafter if we receive the gift. No, no one does. We’re human. But, to be given a sanctuary, yes, she would like that. To be given a hope, yes, that would be good. To be given a fresh start, just amazing. Mostly, though, from now on I’ll be thinking of Harold and Cora waltzing in a garden of daylilies, on a huge intricate quilt, eating French Silk pie, hugging every one who happens to walk by, as a huge incentive to turn to the faith again and again despite my weaknesses and false starts. It’s kind-of a Coble thing to do, you know.
May we all open our hearts today to the compelling love that comforts us in time of our great loss and our lovely gift in the person of Grandma Cora. We were certainly blessed to have been loved by her.