Thursday, October 27, 2011

GRACE abounding in love

This post is dedicated to my GG, Grace Henderson.

She has lived in the same 3 square miles for 86 years. She had lived in the same house for the last 55. Her first love she married as a teenager. Warren Nichols. They had a beautiful life together and two kids. He battled with lung cancer until he died when my mom was about 27 or 28. GG was alone for about 15 years or more. That was my early childhood, to drive down to Alabama (or up when we lived in FL) and do thanksgiving or Christmas with my GG. As I got older, she met a man named Jack, who also lost his wife to illness, and they were married. They just celebrated 20 years I believe! For the last 6 or more years, Jack has progressed with Dementia. Over the last 4 years or sohe has lots control of bodily fluids, stumbles frequently, and nearly cannot walk even with a walker. I used to get so frustrated that my GG was so far away doing all of that on her own. Helping him get to the bathroom, changing his clothes, picking up a 200lb man when he fell, showering him, feeding him, etc. It took what felt like years to convince her to get home help then to put him in assisted living. She was so resistant to it and I used to not understand why. I felt like she was going to deteriorate trying to help him. Her back started hurting more and more, etc.
This summer, we moved her from her longtime home in with my parents when they moved here to Durham. We found Jack an awesome Alzheimer's care facility. She spends hours EVERY day there and just sits with him. He doesnt know her name most days, doesnt know any of us, often can't put a sentence together.

But GG loves him. I realize why it was so hard for her. She was loving, sacrificially, and honoring a covenant she made to love and serve him in sickness and health. I have never seen such sacrificial, self-less love, as knowing my 85 year old GG was changing diapers, cleaning soiled linens, and bathing him. She would not have it any other way. Even still here in NC, she sits with him. He may not know who she is, but she sits there every day, being available, loving him in her own way. I realize how selfish I was to think she should just take care of herself and put him in a nursing home when she wasn't ready. Even now, sometimes, she won't travel with us so she won't be gone from him for days. My parents took her away this weekend to visit my uncle in TN and she texted me (i love that she texts and has a facebook account) to go by and check on Jack. I stopped by the nursing home to find him with his bib on, eating dessert. He didn't know who we or the kids were. He barely said anything. He did look at wheeler and say some semblance of "he will be a good sports player".
I was nervous to tell GG we were adopting African children. Just a few short years ago we taught her to not say the N word (she always said it with the word "sweet" before it...ahha) or negro. So I was afraid how it would go over. She was born and raised in deep south small town alabama. Do you know what this woman said to me when she heard?
"Jesus loves the children of the world and he will love yours too, and love you for giving that child a wonderful home. I love you dearly. Any child that you have will be loved by me."
Jaw dropping love. That is why our next daughter will carry her name as her middle name. Grace. It represents so much in her little life. The grace God has given her to stay alive in impossible conditions and allow us to bring her into our family. The grace he gave her on the cross. The grace he gave us as he gave us the joy to raise this little girl we will bring home. The Grace example she has in my grandmother. The self-less love that GG shows and the triumph of love over racism. The love that came from GG to deprive self and love and serve another, when getting NOTHING in return.
I love you Grace Henderson and what a legacy you have left.

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