My recent absence isn’t due to laziness or lack of knitting. Last Saturday, my grandmother passed away. She had been ill for 15 months and while sad, her death was a liberation…of her soul, which is no longer bound to her body…and of her family, who no longer have to worry about her, for she is where no harm can find her.
Grandma and I were very close. I had the great fortune to live above her until I was 10…so I saw her pretty much every day. She picked me up from school, made me after-school snacks, babysat my doll, taught me to bake and cross-stitch. She instilled in me the belief that something done is worth doing right and well. I hope I carry that to this day…or if not, I will return to that with renewed conviction.
From an early age, she was dedicated to a life in the service of others. Her father was an inner-city rescue mission superintendant during the Depression. She grew up knowing that there were many who needed food and shelter and followed the calling to help provide for them.
Her husband followed her father’s footsteps at the mission. Grandpa was also a pastor and a college professor. In all his roles, he counted Grandma as his greatest supporter. She worked tirelessly with him, and raised three children the best she knew how.
She was a brillian musician–I can still hear her playing hymns on the piano with gusto. She was also an accomplished seamstress who sewed many of her own clothes as well as those of her two daughters. She was a teacher and a writer, a speaker and an administrator. She seemed to be good at everything she tried her hand at. I’m sure she was intimidating at times!
She loved, loved, loved her grandchildren. All of us have grown and may have gone in directions that might not have been forseen…but regardless of our chosen paths, she was always there for us to listen to us, give us thoughtful advice, and to let us be who we were becoming.
In some ways, we have already been without her since she had a stroke in March of 2006. The vibrant woman who was teaching Sunday School the week before was suddenly unable to walk, talk…even swallow. The Grandma we knew was irrevocably altered. But she was still there. I will be forever grateful that for the last year of her life I lived only an hour away and could go see her regularly…just to sit with her and tell her about my life. She always knew I was there. I could see it in her eyes. She would hold my hand and pat it the way she always had. She was still listening. I think she still is.
Margaret Furness 1918-2007
Requiescat in pace.