How My Grandmother’s Death Made Me a Better Christian

By Jazmine Matthews

Everyone thinks that their grandmother is the best in the world. While I’m not going to try and dispute that, I do have a story to tell. This past November, I had the worst week of my entire life. 

While everyone talked about their grandparents and great-grandparents in the past tense, I was speaking about mine in the present. All of my grandparents were still alive and all but two of my great-grandparents were still alive. I was proud to say that.

There’s often confusion when I talk about my grandma. This is probably because the person that I’m referring to as “Grandma” is my great-grandmother. You can chalk that up to the fact that when I was born, my actual grandmother felt like she was too young to be called “Grandma” so she was deemed “Nana” and my great-grandmother proudly got “Grandma”.

And she showed every quality of a grandmother and more.

She took us to church every Sunday right before cooking Sunday dinner for everyone in ol’ Adel, Georgia. But, instead of doing like most grandparents and encouraging moms to scold their children less, she encouraged my mom to scold us more. Apparently I was a “hellion,” my mom’s words not mine, when I was younger and my grandma told her to beat that out of me.

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It was probably good advice considering that any story my family members tell about me, it’s about me beating up my twin brother, me slapping my mom (something I only did once), or being mad when people so much as looked at me. My mom took her advice and all of that scolding and overprotective parenting (something I thank her for now) made me into the person I am today.

We grew up at my grandma’s house.  That was the meeting place for family events, where my brother and I went when my mom had to work, and even a temporary home while my mom moved us to Warner Robins, Georgia. No matter what Grandma was asked to do, she did it with a smile on her face.

And if she didn’t like it, she would be sure to tell you. I wonder where I get my outspokenness?

She was something to everyone that knew her.

Then, I got it. November 20th of last year. It had just passed 6:30 in the morning, and my brother and I were at Ramsey. A call came through and interrupted the music that was playing in my ears, something I was temporarily upset by.

If only that was the worst of my problems.

It was my aunt calling. It wasn’t unusual for her to be up this early, but it was unusual for her to be calling me. And for some reason I knew.

As soon as I said “hello,” I felt it. It was almost as though if anyone in this world would leave an empty feeling when they passed, it would be her.

I heard my aunt’s sobs before she spoke, and my whole body went numb.

“Grandma died.”

“No.” 

I shook, I managed to mumble it to my brother, and I burst into tears. This couldn’t be happening. The best person in the word couldn’t no longer be a part of it.

I can still remember it. The shocked and confused looks of the Ramsey workers at someone who was shaking uncontrollably, the heartbreaking sound of my mom crying when I called and told her 45 seconds later, the numbing sensation of feeling my entire world crashing down around me.

Grandma died. A week before Thanksgiving and a month after celebrating her 92nd birthday, she died.

I won’t continue with the actions later that day or the week following up to her funeral because it’s not something I can get through without crying.

But, I will tell what her passing (still can’t say the ‘d’ word in reference to her) has done for me. I’m a Christian, I’m well aware that God sees and knows all, and that’s enough to usually terrify me into doing the right thing. But, now there’s one more person watching. There’s one more person seeing everything I do.

I can’t tell a little white lie without realizing that the truth is better. I can’t wake up everyday without knowing that God did have other options. I can’t even so much as eat a bag of chips without blessing my food.

I’m better now.

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There isn’t anything in the world that I wouldn’t give to have her back, to hear her voice say “Well, all is well” one more time, but I know that she’s happy where she is. She’s happy that even though I can’t stop crying at the fact that she’s gone, I gained something from her de-departure.

I gained more clarity into who I am and into who God wants me to be. And I know that that’s the best gift I could’ve given to her.

Well, Grandma…all isn’t well yet. But, it will be.

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