I wish you could have met my grandmother.
She was already old when I got to know her. She lived on the third floor of an apartment building in Brampton across from a cemetery. My mother would drive us and park outside her building. We’d bound up the stairs, with no time to waste in an elevator, and crash into her apartment.
Granny must have braced herself as we entered, but we never noticed. She always seemed thrilled to see us.
Even as a child, I knew that I was in the presence of someone special. She did all the things that good grandmothers do. She had a strict no-limits ice cream policy: as long as we were in her house, we could help ourselves to as much ice cream as we’d like. She had the kind of candies that only grandmothers stock for their grandchildren. She also treated us to Sonny’s, a greasy joint with amazing burgers around the corner. She had a budgie who mimicked her favorite phrase: “Praise the Lord!”
Of course, she wasn’t perfect, but there was something about her.
I can’t tell you exactly what it was that drew us to her. I knew she loved us. She loved her husband, my grandfather, who delighted in being a little contrarian and mischievous. Even at a young age, I picked up that it must have been fun but challenging to live with his personality.
I knew Granny was different. I knew she loved God, and that she’d spent enough time to be transformed by him. I knew that Jesus was everything to her, and that she prayed for us night and day.
Later on, Granny developed osteoporosis and lived in constant pain. She didn’t sleep much, but she was fine with that. It gave her more time to pray, she said.
When she died on March 3, 1993, she never had a social media account. They hadn’t been invented yet. She wasn’t famous. Her body lies in a cemetery in north Brampton. As far as I know, nobody visits her gravesite regularly. She’s largely forgotten, and yet the impact of her life reverberates through mine and many others.
She’s in the presence of the Lord awaiting her resurrection. She finally got to meet the One she loved. She lived for the moment she died.
On one hand, her life hardly mattered. She never did more than the ordinary things that most of us do. She was non-famously faithful. The impact of that faithfulness will never be fully known on earth, but it matters for eternity.
We need more like her. Increasingly, my heroes are people like Granny: people who are never known and celebrated by the masses, but who serve and love in quiet and humble ways.
I say we need more like her, but I wonder if that’s true. Maybe we already have saints like this all around us if we just had eyes to see them.
My Granny lived and died as an ordinary saint. I praise God for her. I can’t wait to see her again.