There are times in my walk with God that I have to go old school. There are times in my life when I have to go back and sing the old hymns the way I grew up hearing them as a child. There are times in my life when my prayers are not very pretty. There are times in my faith walk when the road is so dark, and there seems to be more potholes than pavement. These are times when I have to go way back and when my Grandma Clara hangs very heavy in my mind.
Grandma Clara was called "China doll" by all who knew her. They say she was the prettiest woman for miles around and had a voice like an angel. When she met my grandfather, Paris, they were working in an elastic factory in Kentucky. They began singing gospel together and would travel around to churches singing with another couple. They got married and began to have children. My grandfather began to make what was good money at that time. Unfortunately as his money increased, his faith decreased as well as his concern for his family. He began to drink. Heavily.
As alcohol increased its destructive grip on their home the money dwindled away. My grandfather became a very bitter man, hostile toward religion and abusive to his family. He would disappear and abandoned my grandmother with her 9 small children. They lived in abject poverty. They slept on pallets on the floor. Sometimes they would wake up to find snow on the bed covers. My father said that sometimes the first child up got the clothes. He didn't have a matching pair of shoes until he joined the army.
The neighbors say that when the children were small my grandmother would scrub whatever they had, put it on them and march them to church. I can't imagine what life was like for Grandma Clara. Not back in those days. I would like to tell you that she stood firm and was a shining testimony of grace, strength, and faith, but as her circumstances grew worse she turned to alcohol as well, and it eventually took her life. I do not judge her. After her death her small children were scattered hither and yon, some of them never to be reunited again this side of glory.
Oddly enough, when things get really rough in my life, when I feel abandoned by everything and everyone I am used to leaning on, when I feel betrayed by my own circumstances, its my grandmother I think about. When I feel that I don't have the strength to take one more step forward, and that I have been knocked down for the final time, I think of Grandma Clara. I think about her and I get a sense way down deep inside of me that I have to keep going, that I am not in this alone, and that I'm not just standing firm for myself, but I am standing firm for her too. At these times I think about the way satan took my grandmother out and I know I have to make it, not just for myself, but for her.