A little over a week ago my sweet grandmother finished her journey here on earth. I had the privilege of sharing my memories of her at her funeral and wanted to share them with you here.
“I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother, Lois, and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure dwells in you as well.”
– 2 Timothy 1:5
You’re not likely to see the name of Bonnie Greer in bright lights or on billboards, or as the author of some New York Times best seller. Her name is not inscribed on a cornerstone of some building commemorating her great generosity. As a woman of humble means she left behind no great inheritance to be divided among her heirs. That is of course if you speak of those things which can be given a monetary value. But if we speak of things that cannot be ascribed a worth in dollars and cents, then we speak of an inheritance that she has left behind that will never expire, tarnish or fade. You may have known her as a mother, as granny, as sister, as aunt, or as friend. I knew her as MawMaw. But to all of us she has left something that is truly priceless. I’d like to share with you a few of the things she has left with me.
I haven’t heard her voice for a long time, as she got older and her days drew near their end, she didn’t quite say as much as she used to. But I can still hear that sweet high tenor that would say “Hey young’ns come on in here” when we would show up at her house. I can still hear the sweet way she would always answer her phone, “mmmhello.” Maw Maw’s voice always had a little melody of joy, just about any time you would talk to her. And its that joy I have as I remember so many pleasant memories with her from my childhood.
She left the memory of her skills in the kitchen, like her canned pickles, and white grape juice. How I loved her pickles and grape juice. I can still hear her say, “Young’ns get on in here and eat.” We never came to her house, that there wasn’t some sort of food on the table. It might be boiled turkey, or a deviled egg, or cream corn, but occasionally there was some pistachio salad with the colored marshmallows mixed in. Or at Christmas time her peanut butter balls and fudge. She would make so much, she had to have stood for hours. But she loved to do it. Not just to hear you fuss over how good it was, but because she genuinely loved to do it.
I remember Easter baskets, and Christmas presents, and some little something from the Dollar store just about every time I came to see her as a child. I loved coming to maw maw and paw paws house. We’d get ready to leave and she’d sneak me a stick of Wrigley’s Double-mint Gum, not because she had to sneak it, but I think it was just her way.
She was always making, sowing, crocheting something. Whether it was a doily, or an ornament to sell at the local craft store, or an apron or dress for her great granddaughters. I’ll never forget coming to her house and her giving my wife an I a king sized green and pink bedspread that she had crocheted, all by herself. It was so heavy that it took all of my strength to lug it around. I never could figure out her little arms could have maneuvered even half of that quilt. I’ve often marveled at the hours it must have taken her to stitch that blanket, one stitch at a time, with a fair dose of love in every loop.
I have the memories coming to spend the week with her and PawPaw, we’d always try to do fun stuff. I’ll never forget PawPaw one summer laying out on the front porch of my Uncle Joe’s cabin, and he yelled, “Hey there, Shorter Than I Am.” For a split second I couldn’t figure out who he was talking to, then realized he was flirting with my maw maw. She shook her head, and grinned a little and then got him whatever he was asking her to get him.
I remember how heart broken she was when PawPaw passed away 25 years ago. I held her hand as we walked to his grave site, and tears streaming down her face, hearing her say, “Earl I promised you I walk with you the last mile of the way,” and she did. She loved him so much, and he loved her. He’d always bring her some kind of flower even if it was a dandelion. They went together like a hand and glove
I remember faithfully getting letters from her when I went away to college. She would give me a full update on everyone back home, what “ole Bud, was up to” or maybe the other grandkids, or any news from Jefferson. She might tell me about something that had her troubled. But most of the time, she was simply writing to tell me she loved me.
When I served oversees in ministry, every month, as faithful as the sun rising and setting I could count on her $10 gift of support coming in. It might not seem a lot to many, but that ten dollars was as special to me because I knew it was a significant gift from her, simply given out of sincere love for me.
Giving seemed the embodiment of MawMaw. And of all the things, letters, gum, candy, jars of pickles, or ten dollar offerings, I am truly thankful for the memories she has left with me.
She hasn’t just left me with memories, but she has left me to dream as well. I dream of seeing her again, walking down streets of gold. Hand in hand with PawPaw. I dream of seeing her smile with the same joy she showed down here, as her sons, and daughters in law, grandchildren and great grandchildren, brother and sisters, and her friends walk through those beautiful gates of pearl. Saying “Young’ns come on in here, there’s plenty of food on the table.”
I dream of standing with her before the throne of Jesus, worshipping Him for a thousand years or maybe more. I know she’ll be smiling that same sweet smile that warmed my heart so many times here below.
I dream of hugging her tiny, yet healthy and strong frame in my arms once again.
While the memories and the dreams she has left are sweet and beautiful, I believe there is one thing more that MawMaw hoped to leave all of us who love her so dearly. And that is her sincere faith. She loved Jesus. She had a faith in him that was quiet, unassuming, but steadfast and sure. I believe that it is in part because of her sincere faith, that I am able to stand before you today, as a minister of the gospel, yes, but more importantly as one who shares her sincere faith. I pray that when my body is laid to rest that someone, someday will be able to say about me, as Paul said about Timothy, “I am reminded of your sincere faith, that was in your father and mother, and in your grandmother, MawMaw Bonnie.”
MawMaw I don’t know if you can hear me. I imagine you’re still taking in the view of Heaven. You’re probably standing awestruck at the throne of God, listening to the beautiful choirs of heaven singing their praises. You’ve probably never seen so much gold, and pearl, and who knows what other beautiful jewels. You had so very little down here, but I know that Jesus has already welcomed you in, saying “Well done, my good and faithful servant, enter in to your reward.” So go ahead and enjoy it all MawMaw, you deserve this reward. Your name may never have been written in bright lights down here, but we know its written in the book of life up there. Your name may not have been inscribed on a cornerstone of buildings down here, but I hope you have touched the nail scarred hands of Jesus, and seen that your name is inscribed on the palms of his hands.
It won’t be long, till we see you again, MawMaw. But until then, thank you for the inheritance you have left us all, an inheritance of memories, of dreams, and above all an inheritance of sincere faith.
I have just read this beautiful tribute you wrote about your Grandmother and I have to confess I have tears running down my face . I remember you talking about “MawMaw” and as a Grandmother myself it is so special that a grandson should say such wonderful things and have such special memories of your gran. I have to say being a Granny is a wonderful privilege and I love my grandchildren to bits.
Shannon , you are truly blessed with a gift of writing – the few times we heard you preach in Jerusalem was always a blessing and now your writing is just as much a blessing. How wonderful it would be to meet up with you and Kristia and all your beautiful children one day. I see you are doing a tour to Israel in November next year – maybe we can coincide a trip there at the same time – we go to Israel at least twice a year – partly for a buying trip for my shop Essence of Israel which I have run for 9 years now and then we also go mid year for CFI for the CFI conference as we run the SA branch but the main reason we go is because we love it so much and as you wrote a little while back – it is like going home!
We send lots of love and prayers to you and all the family and thanks for being such a blessing – I so look forward to your articles.