I tell a lot of stories because my grandma liked to tell stories. She talked about her family and ancestors and my grandpa, her husband. She said she liked to go out to the barn and hear Grandpa sing hymns to the cows. She told me once that when she was in school she used to sneak off and smoke cigarettes with a friend on the corner of some old gravel roads.
She said the sweetest fellowship she ever experienced was the community of believers she and Grandpa went to church with in Preston, Mo., several years ago, and she was very excited to know that heaven would be like this but better than could be imagined.
She worked in a grocery store and visited with people. She worked in a jail and was a mean old broad. She played piano and taught me how to crochet and embroider and sew. She was valedictorian of her high school, and she had hundreds of bible verses memorized, on index cards that she kept in every room of her house.
I swear to you she was one of the most fascinating people you could ever hope to meet.
My grandma passed away a few months ago and life is different now. She was a dear friend to me, one of my best friends, and she has left. And dealing with the loss has been an odd thing. It’s a mixture of emotions — of sadness and joy and weirdness — and trying to understand while being okay with not understanding.
I say sad because I walk around and I see things of her, glimpses of my life with her. She gave me some earrings last year, and I wear a couple of pairs a lot. She made me skirts for my last birthday that I wear. I have blankets that she used and made. Books she gave me. Bible verses written on cards. Something that smells like her. Gospel music that she listened to. And it’s a little sad because, in a small way, it’s like losing my grandpa again because the person who knew him best is gone now.
There’s joy, too. Every time I came home from school, my grandma and I talked about what would happen when she died. We talked a lot about heaven. I’m curious about it. I think about it a lot. What our bodies will look like and if I get a lake house and if the food is the way I want it and how cool it will be to talk to Elijah and John and James and how full of peace it will be to rest in the arms of Christ. And then we always came back around to death, and she talked about what will happen and that she can’t wait to meet people she never knew and sing in perfect pitch and be with Jesus and see her family and Grandpa.
It’s weird because I talk about my family a lot. They’re odd and hilarious. I talk about my grandma the most because she is one of the most godly people I’ve known, and one of the most real people. In her life she cussed and sometimes she had a beer in her fridge, but she also had bible verses taped all over her house and she read nearly every Max Lucado book published. When I come home from school, we always went to the Mennonites on Saturdays and to eat Rooster’s BBQ, if it was open. She would talk to the people she knew and smile and ask about their families. Then we would go to her house where we would talk about death and watch Westerns. Big Jake is her favorite.
It’s weird because I’ll have no new stories about her to tell.
In the weeks since her death, I’ve been thinking about the last verse she had been memorizing, Deuteronomy 10:21: “He is your praise, and he is your God, who has done for you these great and awesome things, which your own eyes have seen.”
God is so good to us, to give us these people and these experiences. And I find it so funny that as much as we feel loved on this earth by the people here, it isn’t until we are with him in Gloryland that we will know full joy, full peace, and full — completely full — love.
And it’s beautiful to know that God is faithful in this, that this earth will pass away, and we’ll get new bodies with no arthritis and scars and there will be no more tears.
Amanda Kingston is from southwest Missouri. She recently graduated from Mizzou with a B.A. in English and minor in art history and is seeking employment for the fall (see attached resumé).