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Grandma hadn’t been stolen from me. I finally understood that those we love will always be with us—even after death.
When I was a child, my favorite day of the week was laundry day. I used to help Grandma carry the overflowing clothesbaskets down the wooden stairs to our basement.
While she sorted the clothes and put loads in the washer, I played house in a huge cardboard box. When the first load of wash was done, Grandma always sat me on top of the dryer. There I waited impatiently for the cold white machine to become nice and warm.
When the last load of clothes tumbled in the dryer, Grandma scooped me onto her lap, and we rocked back and forth in the old green rocking chair. Grandma told me that the chair, which groaned and creaked under our weight, was singing. To my young ears the chair seemed to send out perfect harmonies that meshed with Grandma’s songs about little brown jugs and mares that ate oats.
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I never quite learned all the words to the songs, because I usually dozed off in her arms. When the buzzing of the dryer eventually woke me, the songs were over and Grandma was gently nudging me off her lap so she could go on to her next project.
All too soon our wonderful days in the basement were brought to a close. I went off to kindergarten, and Mom, who had been divorced soon after I was born, remarried. My new father, Mom, my two older sisters, and I moved into a house across town. Even so, I still got to spend most weekends at Grandma and Papa’s house.
As I grew older, I began noticing something wrong with Grandma. She developed a tumor that doctors removed, then another that kept her in the hospital for much longer than the first one. When I visited her, she didn’t seem to understand what I was saying.
Early one January morning Grandma died. Everyone told me she was better off, that she was no longer in pain and she was with God. Eventually I adjusted to her being gone, but I could never reconcile myself to the fact that God had stolen her away from me. I felt deprived—He had Grandma and I did not. Every time I came across a letter she’d written or saw a picture of her, I burst into resentful tears.
One crisp winter morning five years later, all that changed. When my alarm clock first went off, I drowsily hit the snooze button, closed my eyes, and pulled the blankets tight around my chin. As the warmth of the covers relaxed me, I drifted off ... and was back in the basement on laundry day with warm arms around me.
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Familiar piles of clothes, separated by colors, covered the bare gray floor. I could hear the whir of the dryer. I looked up, and there was Grandma’s kind, smiling face. A slow rocking motion started as Grandma pulled me closer. I was a child again, nestling in that familiar lap, gently rocking back and forth on the chair that sang. I listened happily as Grandma accompanied it, tenderly crooning all my favorite melodies in the voice I had missed so dearly.
I pressed my head against her shoulder and closed my eyes, comforted by the presence I knew so well. Then a soft buzzing sounded from far away. When I opened my eyes, I was back in my bed, groping to turn off the alarm.
Suddenly, peacefully, I realized God had just reminded me that Grandma hadn’t been stolen from me. In those magical minutes I had finally been made to understand that those we love will always be with us—even after death.
I looked out my window at the amber sunrise. Once again there was singing. But now it was in my own heart.
A Unique Song
You have a unique message to deliver, a unique song to sing, a unique act of love to bestow. This message, this song, and this act of love have been entrusted exclusively to the one and only you. —John Powell, S. J.
Excerpted from Stories to Warm a Grandma's Heart: True Stories of Hope and Inspiration. Copyright © 2011 by Guideposts. All rights reserved.