My ninety-six-year-old great grandmother danced into heaven on January 8th, 2014. She was a woman of love and as sharp as a whip. Her name was Violet Petrey Saylor, but everyone that knew her called her “Grandma Violet.” She was a mother, grandmother, great & great great grandmother, as well as friend to many. If you visited her home of 82 years in Goldthwaite, Texas you would find the warmth of her smile, the comfort of her food, and the touch of her arms hugging you. During a visit she knew what you needed; whether that be her hard tac biscuits, blueberry muffins, cornbread or just coffee and conversation.
Last week I was in the home she and my great grandfather built. I was surrounded by the family she loved and the memories she created. My cousin went directly to the photo albums. She began walking around the house sharing pictures with the other family. I couldn’t get to the kitchen fast enough to join her. But as I reached for one of the photo albums, my eyes fell on my grandmother’s bible. It had been left open with a blue, white lace and pearled marker, and I was intrigued to see what verse it had been left on. I found nothing marked, underlined or highlighted. Instead, I turned the pages and found sheets of paper with poems, quotes and letters from family, lovingly preserved. I opened and read one that turned out to be lyrics to a song:
He alone decides who writes a symphony.
He lights every star that makes our darkness bright.
He keeps watch all through each long and lonely night.
He still finds the time to hear a child’s first prayer.
Saint and sinner call and always find him there.
Though it makes him sad to see the way we live, he’ll always say “I forgive”
He can grant a wish or make a dream come true.
He can paint the clouds and turn the gray to blue.
He alone knows where to find the rainbow’s end
He alone can see what lies beyond the bend.
He can tough a tree and turn the leaves to gold.
He knows every lie that you and I have told.
Though it makes Him sad to see the way we live,
He’ll always say– ‘I forgive.”
Beneath it in her handwriting she scrawled, “This I wish to have sung at my passing”I continued to thumb through her bible with hopes of finding more evidence of her love for God shinning through. In the very back of her bible were hand-written thoughts on a little Nesco supply corporation letterhead. Attached was a quote. It read, “Before you turn out your light tonight, ask yourself, ‘Did what I do today, make a difference in the life of one person?’ If the answer is no, then you might as well be dead.”
Written on the letterhead she gave her thoughts on the quote along with a wish for her family. It was dated July 7, 1987.
“Life is such a short time really, and someone once told me when I was very young that wisdom comes with living and age; that, I have learned. I have loved life and people. My family have always been first, but along the way we always had enough love for some one other than Husband and children. If I have helped just one person by reaching out with love I will but feel like my life is not a waste. My one wish, if i should be granted one, is that my family will always be united. I have striven all my life for harmony and love. I hope it has not been in vain.”
Timing is everything. I have been struggling for some time now with certain family member and have felt both hurt and therefore unforgiving. Sitting in the living room, discovering these precious treasures, not only did I feel my grandmother’s presence, but the presence of the Holy Spirit. I think God and my grandma knew what I needed as I entered her home.
People have always said I looked like my great grandma when she was younger. We both had brown hair and blue eyes. In her younger pictures our similar bone structure is more evident. Upon reading the notes in her bible, I discovered our similar passions and personalities as well. You see, when I was a senior in high school every senior picked a quote to go under their name in the yearbook, a motto to live by. Not unlike my grandma’s treasured quote, I chose,”The life that touches the heart of others goes on forever.”
I spoke at her funeral service and shared the words she allowed me to find. I’m forever changed by this touching last moment I had with my grandmother, and although it wasn’t in person, I’ve never felt closer to her.