Saturday, October 22, 2011

Victory In Jesus

October always seems to be a melancholy month for me.  October and January are the two months out of the year I dread.  I love Fall.  I love the change to cooler weather and when the leaves turn to vibrant colors.  I can't say the same about January though.  Winter is my least favorite season.  October and January are full of memories I can't seem to forget.

October was the month my Nannie got sick.  I don't know that they ever truly figured out what caused her to become so sick, but we really thought she was going to die.  She didn't at that time.  She woke up one day trying to spit the ventilator out of her mouth and mad as a hornet.  We were given more days with her.  We were able to spend one more Thanksgiving and one more Christmas with her.  We were given more time to tell her how much we loved her.  And then January 18, 1988 the Lord took her home.  That night is forever burned in my mind.  It's been almost 25 years and every time I think of that night I'm brought to tears.  I remember the phone call and hearing my mom scream out.  Just hours before I had ridden in the back seat of the car with her as my aunt drove her to the hospital.  The last words I ever said to her were, "You know how much I love you."  And the last words she ever said to me were, "I love you too."  I will forever be grateful for those last few minutes, but I will never forget the sick feeling in my stomach as we dropped her off at the ER.  It was getting late, and I had school the next day, so I had to go home.  I didn't want to leave though.

I remember the sounds when they were lowering her in ground and crying asking my aunt Teresa, "What am I going to do, what am I going to do?"  My aunt Bobbie kept saying over and over again, "She's not in there, Robin.  She's not in there."  For the next couple of years every time I would visit her grave I had this urge to want to dig her body up.  I couldn't stop thinking she was suffocating.

The cliche' that it hurts less as time goes on is just that, a cliche'.  For me it's not true.  My heart still aches, and I would love to have her give me a kiss on the cheek again and hug me tightly.

She was the most amazing women I've ever known.  I was so blessed to have a very close relationship with her.  I loved staying at her house.  There were times I would stay for days.  My mom would call and ask if I was ready to come home and I'd beg to stay just one more night.

My Nannie was about my height and weighed no more than 110 pounds.  She was feisty and had a temper.  We have a saying in our family, "They've got that Ruby temper."  When she loved you, she loved you with her whole being, and she loved her family.  Nothing stood in the way of her taking up for them, and at the same time nothing stood in her way of telling them just was she thought.  I remember her getting so mad at people she would hang the phone up on them.  She would slam it down and then pick it up and slam it again.  After awhile she would get to thinking about what she had done.  She would call the person she had hung up on and ask if they were upset with her and say she was sorry ... well, there were exceptions.

While my mom worked we often stayed with her.  My brothers were so mischievous and would purposely aggravate her.  They never did what she told them to, and she would call my aunt to have a talk with them.  She always threatened to tell our mom, but as my mom was pulling up they would beg her not to and promise to be better the next time.  She never told on them and would say, "Okay, but you better mind me the next time."

I never saw her more proud than the night my mom graduated nursing school and the afternoon my uncle graduated college.  I never saw her more worried than when my cousin was diagnosed with leukemia. She loved her family ... each and everyone of us.

Probably my most favorite time with her was the morning.  We would wake up and eat breakfast.  She always had oatmeal and apple sauce.  She would scramble me eggs and fix me toast.  After we were finished, she would take her coffee and I would take my hot chocolate and go back to bed.  We would sit there and talk for the longest time.  One morning I asked about her baby boy that had died when he was only six months old.  She began to tell me about him, but quickly stopped when she started crying.  Sometimes she would talk about how much she missed her mother.  She passed away when I was five.  I got to know her heart in such a special way.  What treasure those times were!  

She always made me pinto beans, hoecakes (fried cornbread) and instant potatoes for dinner.  I know instant potatoes sound gross to most people, but I've always had a thing for them.  What I didn't know until after she died was she didn't like them.  She never told me that, but she always made them for me.

She always wore dresses.  It was a rare occurrence for her to wear pants.  She would stand in the bathroom mirror and primp.  She would cover her face in Oil of Olay, pick out her hair and look herself over as she turned her head side to side.

She washed dishes once a day and it took her all morning.  She would run the water scalding hot and let them soak until all the water drained out.  She she would slide her watch up her forearm as she waited for the sink fill back up and then scrub each and every dish.  She would then run more scalding water for them to sit and rinse.  She would be pouring with sweat from the steam of the water, and while she waited for the water to drain once again, she would sit down in the living room and take a break as she cooled off.  It literally took her all morning long, but she was always done in time to watch "The Young and the Restless".

She was a creature of habit.

Every time I left her house she would hug me so tight I thought I would break into and then she would give me three slobbery kisses on the cheek.  I would always wipe the slobber off when she wasn't looking.  Then she would stand on the porch and wave as we pulled out of the driveway.  If any of us ever forgot to give her a hug and kiss she would chase us to the car, lean in to give us kiss and always bump her head on the top of the car.

When I was old enough to stay by myself she would call several times a day when my mom was at work.  She would always ask if I had the doors and windows locked.  She would tell me I didn't need to be answering the phone, yet she kept calling back.

It makes me sad to think about how some of my cousins never got to meet her.  I really wish she had been able to meet my children.  I used to wonder if she was really as great as I had her built up in my mind and heart to be, and then one day I met a man who confirmed everything I believed her to be.

His mom was a patient where I worked.  She probably had already been there for two years when one afternoon I was working late.  He stopped by the nurses station I was sitting at and began to talk.  He asked me about my family and his face lit up as he said, "You're Ruby's granddaughter ... you are her Robin!  I knew since we kids.".  We spent the next hour talking about her.  He talked about what a strong, amazing women she was ... he validated everything I felt and thought about her.

I could write pages upon pages about my memories of her, but the memory that sticks in my mind more than any other was something she said one Sunday I went to church with her.  They sang, "Victory in Jesus" and as she sang that song tears streamed from her face.  She had this peaceful smile and the tears confused me.  I had seen her do this before.  We were sitting at red light after church and I asked her, "Nannie, how come every time you sing "Victory in Jesus" you cry?"  She reached over, patted my hand and said, "Hunny, I pray that some day you understand."

It took me years to understand and every time I now sing that song, I too have tears in my eyes and can so vividly see her standing in that country church singing from the depths of her soul.

I miss so much my heart physically aches, but as much as I miss her there is no other place I would love for her to be.  I know she is singing in Heaven and now she fully knows what having victory in Jesus truly is.  And some day I will too.

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