“Some memories are realities and are better than anything that can ever happen to one again.” – Willa Cather
The bright sun glared on my car during the first Sunday of June in 2004. Dressed in my Sunday’s best, I drove my father to his home place in an effort to pick up my grandma to take her with us to church. It was only a few months earlier that I pooled all of my high school graduation gift money to buy my first car thanks to the help of my dad – a 1989 Honda Accord. Though I had my car for seven months at that point, I had never driven it to my father’s parents’ home … until that first Sunday in June 2004.
By 2004, the ravages of time and age had really waned on my grandmother’s physical and mental health. Watching her slowly fade was a humbling reminder of her mortality. Yet, the vigor and passion she had for God and the church never dissipated. There were Sundays my grandmother would do everything in her power to get ready for church, only to have her body give out on her. My father and I would come to Grandma’s house, only to be told by my father’s sister, Patricia “Cicero”, that Grandma just couldn’t make it out today. It was obvious that Grandma’s inability to attend the church she helped mold into what it once was (if you’ve been reading “Schism: The Not-So-Righteous Church Story”, you would understand why I didn’t use the phrase “…what it is today.”) affected her once happy Sundays.
In 2004, on the first Sunday of June, I drove into Grandma’s yard expecting my father and I to turn around and drive to church just as we had thus far. To my surprise, there stood Grandma in her house, waiting for Cicero to finish her beautification techniques. A few minutes later, I assisted my grandmother enter my car for the first time. After helping my grandma buckle up, we took off.
My dad was the first to speak up between the three of us, stating the obvious that this was the first time I had driven my grandma to church.
Grandma’s response was simple, “Yes. This is a nice car, too.”
I glanced in the rearview mirror not long before we arrived at the church her name is forever attached to, noticing my grandma’s positioning in the backseat. With her hands crossed on the Bible in her lap, she barely cocked her head to look at the still sights we were passing. The quiet dignity I always saw in her shown as bright as ever.
Following the service, I drove to the church’s front entrance so my grandma didn’t have to walk too far. When people spotted her getting in my car, a smirk shown on my grandmother’s face. I had seen that expression before. It was an expression of great pride. Little did any of us know that the first Sunday of June 2004 would be the last time my grandmother would attend a church service.
Writing this story reminds me just how much the little, seemingly insignificant memories remain attached to our hearts. Thanks to hustle and bustle of life, our hopes for something bigger and better can sometimes make us forget that the little things in life (such as taking my grandmother to church) can be the most meaningful things in our existence.