Two weeks ago yesterday I got a phone call that I have been dreading for a very long time. My mom called to let me know that my Grandma, my Dad’s mom, whom I have loved dearly all of my life, went to be with Jesus. It was not unexpected, as you will see below, but happened much more quickly than my immediate family thought possible. She was tired. She lived a good life, and she was ready to see Jesus. We all believe that once she was finally truly ready to go, she was READY, which is why it didn’t take long.
On the Saturday night before she was promoted to Heaven, my Dad called. That call prompted me to have a NEED to write. That doesn’t happen very often, but it was the only way I knew to express what I was feeling. The post below is what I wrote. Her Pastor, Pastor Hakes, read it for me at Grandma’s service on the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend. He read it JUST the way I would have, but there was absolutely NO WAY I would have been able to make it through reading it myself.
I had a couple of relatives and friends who asked for a copy. This was the easiest way for me to make it available, so here goes:
Tonight I got the call that I have been most dreading. I knew before I even talked to my Dad that whatever I was about to hear was not going to be what most considered to be good news. I could tell just by the sound of his voice in the voicemail. It sounded exactly like my Grandpa on the very rare occasion that he called. If Grandpa was on the other end of the line when it rang, it automatically meant the news was not happy, but you could always tell in the tone of his greeting. My sweet Daddy had that exact same tone. He had just gotten a call telling him that if he wanted to see Grandma when she might still recognize him and be able to communicate, he needed to make his way to her quickly.
I cannot even begin to adequately express what this dear woman, who I have adored all of my life, means to me. She has taught me so much. In large part, I am who I am because of her example. I cannot imagine life without her, and yet I knew it was coming. The last time I called to talk to her a couple of months ago, I KNEW that I was hearing her voice over the phone lines for the last time. I savored every moment of that call, as difficult as it was. It was much shorter than most of our calls, because it was so difficult for her. I was very deliberate about my goodbye and told her in great detail how very much I love her.
Who was she? What did she teach me over the 45 years that I spent with her?
She taught me to love, in so many, many ways!
She taught me that family is family, always and forever, no matter what and that just BECAUSE someone was family, they were special. They came first. If you had to make a choice, the choice was always family.
She taught me that a good, homemade ANYTHING would make a hard situation better. I truly believe that her love language was “Acts of Service”. You knew you were loved by Ruby Holtz when you sat down to one of her meals made lovingly from scratch. As long as she lived on the farm with Grandpa, she literally spent most of her waking hours either making or planning what to make for the next meal.
She adored my Grandpa. He was her very world. It was rare to see one without the other. Some of my most precious memories of them together are of the way that they took care of one another. For many years, it really looked to me like there was no way that Grandpa could have survived without her. Then she was diagnosed with cancer, had her stroke and broke her hip and we all learned just how very capable he was. They had their “roles” and they took them seriously, without complaint. I can’t help but think how very different our country would be if there were more couples like them!
Her sense of love and commitment went so far that she nursed BOTH of my great-grandmothers AND my grandpa in her home leading up to their dying days. She was not about to send them off to a hospital. She wanted them to know that they were loved until they crossed to Heaven and were in Jesus’ care!
She taught me how to laugh! Her sense of humor was such fun! I still remember the summer day when Grandma Holtz was the mastermind behind a prank trapping my Grandma Noble in the outhouse! We laughed until we cried many times about that one!
She taught me that I and only I am responsible for “my stuff”. My grandparents lived well below what most would consider poverty level for years, and yet they made it work. They did what they had to do. They grew their own food and sold it when they had to and yet they were always giving.
She taught me to work and work hard. In her opinion, no one else was responsible for doing her work for her and it was very humbling to her on the very rare occasion when she needed someone else’s help.
She taught me how to relax and soak up time with others. I learned the importance of time and sitting and listening to others from her. Regardless of what other “busyness” she had going on, she made time for others if they needed her. There was nothing like sitting on or by the swing on the hill overlooking the countryside on a summer evening and just talking at the end of a long, often swelteringly hot, summer day.
She protected us and took care of us many summers while my mom and dad were at conferences. And she did it WELL! She pampered us as only a grandma can, but she didn’t take any guff either! We knew not to cross all 4 foot 10 inches of her, but we also knew she had a reason for everything she did. (That doesn’t mean we didn’t question some things, like the afternoon we snuck under the kitchen window to see WHY we had to go outside to play every time one of her frequent visitors came over. We learned some new words from the friend’s colorful language that day, but not because grandma didn’t TRY to protect us from it!)
She was loyal. She had many lifelong friends and was a member of the same church all of her adult life. Over the last several years, any time I talked to her she used the last time she was able to go to church as her reference point. She HATED that she was unable to attend over the last couple of years. Her friends loved her! The staff at the nursing home often made comment when I would get to visit her about how many friends and visitors she had. It was not at all uncommon when I called -for her to either have a visitor in the room or have just had someone leave.
She taught me to serve. For years, there wasn’t a church function where the kitchen in this very church wasn’t organized and overseen by her. I fondly remember listening to her on the phone planning meals or ordering flowers for people at the church who were sick or had lost a loved one.
She was so humble. I don’t believe she ever truly understood how respected and loved she and Grandpa were. This was proven to me most poignantly the night of Grandpa’s viewing. I was standing next to her in the receiving line. At one point, I leaned over to check with her about whether or not she needed to take a break. She admitted that she did, but said, “I’ll just wait until there is a break in the line.” I went to see when that break might be for her and had to compose myself before going back into the room when I realized that the line wrapped through the building and outside a full hour into the visitation time. There was literally a line waiting to get to express their condolences to her and the rest of our family for about half an hour longer than the scheduled time. Friends and family came from several states away to express their deep love. People loved them both. They couldn’t help but love them. They WERE love!
Most of all, she taught me the importance her faith. She taught me in Sunday School and took me with her for church events. It was just understood in her home that if there was a service, we were going! It wasn’t an option. We were there. I helped her in the church kitchen many times and went to Women’s Missionary Meetings and activities often when we visited. But she taught me most just by quietly living out her faith. She was a woman of her word. Not once, did I ever have reason to doubt her love for me. She loved with all of her being…every fiber of her body. The example of that alone is more than many people get to watch and I don’t take that for granted, not for even one fraction of a second. As of the time of this writing, she is not even gone yet, and I can already begin to feel the void. But I find myself praying for her release. She is ready to see her Savior and many times lately has told me how ready she is to see Jesus and that she misses Grandpa. The move to the nursing home was probably one of the hardest things she ever had to do and I know she is ready to be among the throngs worshipping at Jesus’ feet. It makes Heaven sweeter for me as well. I will miss her terribly, but I look forward to being with her in Heaven – to spend eternity together singing and worshipping the One who gives us both hope. Without even knowing it, and just by living a life well, she has given us all more than anyone else possibly could – all because of the life that she chose to live. I will forever be grateful to be her only Granddaughter. She is Ruby Holtz and there is not another person on this planet just like her! I am, of all people, most blessed to call her “Grandma”!