The interesting thing about spending 10 days and nights with your 85-year-old mother is that a lot of repeating goes on. I say something. She says "what?" I repeat. And then she asks me questions. A lot of questions. They just happen to be the same questions over and over and over. It takes patience but I figure if she was patient with me for the 20 years I lived under her roof, then I could most certainly return the favor.
Today (day 8 ~ but who's counting?) I decided I would play "name that great-grandchild" and test her knowledge of her umpteen great-grandchildren. We went through the whole gamut of April has four, Joel has three, etc., etc., and she was able to name everyone with the exception of one. I will not name that one for fear of offending one of her grandchildren, but I thought that 14 out of 15 isn't bad for a woman who can't remember how many times she has asked me if I have a new car today.
But then the game took an interesting twist when I began to ask about generations. She easily remembered the names of my father's six siblings. And she and I both got a little tangled on her mother's family members, but that family was a little tangled to begin with. Then we managed to name the nine children my great-grandmother (her paternal grandmother) birthed. All nine.
And that is where the story took a slight turn when we started talking about one of those nine: her father, Sid.
Now, my sisters and I knew our grandfather very well. And we knew most of the stories. And most of the stories were not the kind you would sit around and fondly remember on a winter night by the fire. One of my stories in particular included spending the night with my grandmother and right when I laid my head on the pillow she reminded me her pistol was underneath and it might be a good idea to remove it. She had to have some protection just in case he came around after he had been drinking. My mother lived with her grandmother most of her young life because her father moved around a lot to find work. Her mother would track him down and live with him while my mother stayed on the farm. I'm not sure if my grandmother loved him so much that she tracked him down or if she felt the need to keep him on track when she finally tracked him down. Nevertheless, he gave everyone plenty of reason to worry with his, shall we say, colorful lifestyle.
Finally the day came when his womanizing and his drinking caught up with him and he found himself in the state penitentiary. I think it was a culmination of too many DUIs or perhaps it was driving his riding mower on the downtown sidewalk and running over a man. Nevertheless, he was going to have to stay put for awhile.
And so, the story goes, that my mother would visit him in prison. And while she was there she noticed a man with a Bible that also visited quite often. And as it turns out, the man was visiting my grandfather and speaking the Gospel into his life. As my mother continued to visit, she noticed the change in Sid's life. He began to confess and repent and ask forgiveness. He even wrote her a letter asking for her forgiveness. My grandmother had passed away and he was greatly saddened by the fact that he could not speak with her. My mother told me that if God could forgive him, then she certainly could as well. When he returned home from prison, mother told me he was a changed man and she knew it was only because of the saving grace of God.
She told me this story THREE times in a row within a 45-minute period. But to me, any story of grace is definitely a story worth repeating.