I am inescapably like my grandmother Janet. There are things I say, ways I hold my body, methods through which I move through the world that are so like her that my mother cannot help but say that I am just like her. My body is the same type as hers. I probably have the same hairstyle now as one of her chemo wigs. I have a way of phrasing my thoughts out loud that come out like her.
And I am fine with that. It is a good thing. I’ll take the comparison, because my grandmother was one of the quiet servants of the Church.
She did more work and service than I will ever know. She raised four amazing children. She worked as a nurse, and then kept the books for the family tile business for years even after my grandfather retired. She took her grandchildren on two week trips that we all still tell stories about. She had a ten year battle with cancer that left her body weak but her mind still remained strong as ever, and her service didn’t stop. She and my grandfather were generous, helping boy scouts with pinewood derby and United Methodist Women with table decorations and service projects.
My grandmother had a favorite flower. It is not an assuming flower, it is not a flower that has to travel from a greenhouse in the tropics, it is not an exotic flower that takes years of delicate care. It is the daffodil. She collected the bulbs from the side of the road, from places where they looked abandoned. And she filled the family yard with thousands of bulbs. Even as she collected them, she gave the bulbs away, sharing them with friends and family.
The daffodil is a bulb flower. It lies dormant for most of the year, hiding inside a ball of power inside the ground. Through the fall and winter there is no evidence that there is any beauty in the land. But in early Spring, the green shoots dare to bound out of the cold earth. And then the bright yellow flowers emerge, dancing in the midst of the soil and leaves that covered the bulbs through the winter. The flowers brave the still chilly wind and catch the rays of the growing sunlight. They are a visible and tangible sign of the promise of the Spring and warmth that is to come.
My grandmother died this past March. The daffodils in her yard were in full bloom. There were daffodils everywhere I looked, beautiful yellow dancing reminders of the hope and joy that my grandmother brought to so many people. They stood as a reminder of the hope that comes after the cold dark nights.
I pray that I, too, can be a reminder of that hope, even as the days grow shorter and the cold sets in to our bones. There is a time when we will all dance in the face of the bracing wind. There is a time when there will be more light, and we will reflect it through our standing courageous in the cold and dark.