Pastoral Post 1.18.2019

Childhood Memories that Shape Us

By Rev. Becky Brown

I’m not sure why, but I’ve been thinking about my maternal grandmother a lot lately.  She was my Maw Maw Mack, and I loved her deeply.  She has been gone for 19 years, yet my memories of her are plentiful and pure.  My Maw Maw was an important part of my life growing up because, for many years, she lived in the same town as we did.  I would spend afterschool afternoons with her, she would take me to my piano lessons, make sure I “got my homework”, and I would sleepover at her townhome on the weekends.  She would care for me when I was sick and couldn’t go to school, and she never missed an opportunity to support me in school or in my extra-curricular activities.  Most of the time, I had to share her with my younger brother, Adam, but often I had her all to myself.  Those were the most precious of times.

It’s funny the things you remember about a person after many years gone by.  I remember her quirks – she always had to have a cup of black coffee (she must have had 6 or 8 cups a day), she loved shopping but hardly ever bought a thing, she had an accident on an escalator once, which meant she never used one again (which made shopping inconvenient, because we always had to find an elevator), she only filled up at one gas station in Durham because they were the only full-service location available (she never learned to pump her own gas), she loved taking me to feed the ducks at the pond, she loved to read her Bible and talk about which verses were the most precious to her, she loved Jesus and going to church every Sunday was very important to her, she quit smoking cold turkey (a life-long addiction) when I was 7 because I came home in tears worried she would die of cancer and I couldn’t bear the thought of losing her, and most of all – she would do anything for me.  Absolutely anything.

My Maw Maw loved to give my brother and I new Bibles for Christmas and other special occasions.  I think most of my childhood Bibles came from her.  I remember the pride in her stature and the way her face lit up with joy when she saw me open the new Bible (often with my full name engraved in gold letters).  It was very important to her that I had a Bible I could read for myself and learn to fall in love with the scriptures, and even commit verses to memory.  From an early age, I came to understand that the Bible was something to be treasured and that having a Bible was a staple possession.  My love for the Bible began because of my Maw Maw’s influence.

When I was older, in middle school, I asked Maw Maw what her favorite scripture verse was in the Bible.  I asked her what she thought the most important verse was.  Being the excellent Southern Baptist that she was, she recited the verses for memory, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.” (Ephesians 5:1-2) Those verses often come to mind, even today.  I strive to be like Christ and walk in love – mostly because it was my grandmother’s favorite passage of scripture.

My Maw Maw gave me a tiny plaque that sits in my office on my desk.  I don’t remember the occasion, circumstances, or reason for the little token gift, but I have treasured it.  It says “Always know that you are loved.”  Very simply, yet a wonderful reminder of unconditional love.  It encourages me when I’ve had a particularly difficult day.  It lifts me up when I’m down.  It makes me smile and it makes me cry.  It makes my heart swell on a great day.  It fills my cup.

Memories of the important and impactful people in our lives are funny things.  I treasure my memories of my Maw Maw, because that’s how her legacy stays alive.  I draw from her tremendous strength, I want to have the same love for God that she did, and I want to be like Jesus because she thought that was the most important thing.  I’m grateful I had such a Maw Maw, even if she died almost 20 years ago.  Her faith and her life lives on. 

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