Last Wednesday night I got a phone call from my mom.
She had been told that Granny Audry had only less than 24 hours to live.
It wasn’t surprising.
She’d been in failing health for months now.
But still when you get that kind of time frame, it sobers you.
I packed a few things and drove home to Geraldine.
It was around 10:30 when I arrived.
Only mom and dad were there, my grandmother’s pastor’s wife, some close cousins, and a neighbor.
Granny looked awful.
It had been so hard to see her deteriorate like this.
Of course, only a few days before was the first time I’d seen her on one of her worse days.
I went to bed at 11:40, hoping to catch a little rest before morning.
No such luck.
As soon as the lights were out and my head hit the pillow, I was called to the den.
Granny’s breathing had changed.
It would be any minute now, and she would be gone.
Once my dad had been woken up and we had a chance to say our last “I love you’s” I closed my eyes and prayed.
“God, please take her peacefully.”
When I opened my eyes, she was gone.
Now, I’ve often written and talked about wanting my life to mean something.
I want to be significant in this world, not just pass through it.
A major problem with that, though, is that I never really knew what that looked like.
Until this weekend.
My grandmother was 89 years old when she passed and had lived a very full and significant life.
Up until the past year or so, she was on the go just about as much as I was…which I suppose explains where I got that from.
Taking trips with Seniors, Homemakers, selling tickets for quilt shows to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Hospital (she never asked if you wanted to buy, only how many)…
In fact, I’m pretty sure she was still raising money for St. Jude after she’d gone into the hospital.
As word began to spread of her passing, I got phone calls, texts, and emails from many friends expressing their condolences.
But no one that knew her could stop with only a word of sympathy.
Everyone had a story of the love and compassion shown to them and their families by Granny Audry.
Of course, it wasn’t surprising.
I’d experience the same myself.
Footing the bill for me to take advantage of an opportunity to travel to Washington DC after high school.
Driving out of her way to pick me up for church when I was a child.
Buying my allegiance to the University of Alabama with $10 of Paw-paw Maurice’s money.
As far as I’m concerned, that was the best $10 she ever spent.
(A Gilbert’s gotta do what a Gilbert’s gotta do…)
The most significant to me, though, coming after I’d been in Tuscaloosa for a year.
Having a hard time adjusting to the classes, the atmosphere, roommates, being on my own…
I was depressed, and she knew it.
She wrote me a letter.
I’m not certain, but I’m pretty sure this is probably the last letter she ever wrote.
Postmarked 15 July 2004.
I haven’t wrote a letter in a long time. I just want to tell you I love you and that God loves you and that you are in His favor. Believe that and say it over and over and there isn’t anything you can’t do. If you get a night off come home. Keep that chin up and your nose clean.
This is the kind of life that I want to live for myself.
From where I am now, I’ve got a long way to go.
At least now I have a much clearer picture of what that looks like.
And it involves a clean nose and raised chin.
Peace and love.
In memory of Audry S. Gilbert
April 26, 1921 – June 23, 2010
I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother
2 Timothy 1:5