Saturday, September 20, 2014

For Grandma Schmidt

          I am not sure if I have the words to write what I want to say today. I found out last night that my Grandma Schmidt died. I have never been that close my Grandma Schmidt (unlike my Grandma Smith whom you might remember as the one I saw this summer in celebration of her 85th birthday and took a road trip with to Colorado two years ago) and for the last few years Grandma Schmidt has suffered from dementia. I only went a couple of times since she stopped remembering who I was, so I still think of her as healthy and herself. My relationship with her had always been complicated and her death brings up some complicated feelings. I am happy that her suffering is finally over, but I grieve because she was my grandma and I loved her, even if I never felt that she was the role model I wanted in my life.
          As I learn more the older I get, I realize that humans are complicated and our ideas of how life should be is never the reality. Grandma Schmidt was not someone who I saw as a role model, but yet as I look over her life as I have experienced it, I am able to find many things that have been passed down to me for which I am really grateful. The first thing is her love for the church and for God. She made sure her sons went to a Christian high school and college. And even as their faith differed from hers, they both ended up as pastors for some parts of their lives. Faith was essential and even as I have struggled with my own faith, I am thankful for the strong Mennonite tradition that has been emphasized and the openness to a deep relationship with God. I think what struck me the most about the times I visited her in the last couple of years was that she would barely converse at all, but when my dad asked her if she would like to have a Bible verse read, she would perk up and respond that she would really like that. In her last months and years, it was her faith that stayed strong and was what she remembered and valued in life.
          The second thing I remember about my grandma was love. The love was not perfect and often was not what I thought it should be. However, I have no doubt that she loved me and that she really loved my dad. You could just see how proud she was of him. She was proud that he became a pastor and was proud that he was her son. She really loved him. And she loved me. Through knowing her, I came to know that love is a choice. Human love is not always perfect and we don't always show our love in the right way. I firmly believe that we were put on this earth to love. We have the choice to love, even when it's hard. Sometimes loving family members can be difficult because you don't chose who you end up with. However, I believe it is always worthwhile to chose to love even when it is hard. By choosing love, we are able to see each other in a different light. We allow for imperfections while realizing that those imperfections don't matter. What matters is that we are human and are in this life together. There is good in all because we are all made in the image of God. And when we truly love, we reach our full potential as humans.
         So tonight I want to honor a woman who has affected my life in many more ways that I now realize. Tonight I want to honor my grandma, Jeannette Schmidt. I don't know what happens after we die, but I hope you know Grandma that I love you and that I am so thankful for the faith and love that got passed down to me. I am thankful that you were a part of my journey and part of who I am. May you go into peace and go into the deep love that is God.

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