Friday, April 8, 2011

A Hole in Our Gospel

It has been over a year since I read Richard Stearns' bestselling book, A Hole in Our Gospel.  Aside from a great story, this book also invites the reader to ponder very real life questions. If you claim the title Christian, I dare you to read this and not be called into action.

Recently my incredibly independent, strong (physically and mentally) 95.5 year old grandmother had a stroke.   Thankfully the results were not fatal, however, for her they are life changing.  This event will lead to partial or around the clock care and assistance.  Because of her responsible and practical lifestyle she will have the ability to afford this care.  Of course she has family that in a heartbeat would willingly take her in and care for her; but that isn't the point.  She insists on being independent and according to her, she has the means to do it.  My grandmother has worked her ENTIRE life.  And I mean WORK! 

Born to Russian Immigrants she grew up in Lowville, NY and was raised on her family farm.  Living equaled survival, and this Russian family of 11 all pitched in and worked not only to survive, but thrive.  In order to continue on in her schooling, (grades 7-12), at the age of 12 Mary packed her bags and moved into town to live with an Attorney, his wife and 2 children. Her responsibilities included, but weren't limited to: preparing breakfast and dinner meals, laundry (remember there weren't washing machines), cleaning as 1800 square foot house, and tending after the children. She earned one weekend off per month to go see her family and would walk the entire six miles (by herself) to get home.   All this work, in exchange for her room and board  and the opportunity to attend school.  This was not an uncommon practice in the 1930's.  Can you even imagine?!

Mary graduated high school and went on to Nursing School and enjoyed a successful  nursing career at the esteemed NYC  Belleview Hospital.  Great memories were made living in NYC, but when her parents became ill, she was needed back home to help her younger siblings run the family farm.   Once her parents gained their health and the farm was back on tract, duty called and she joined her countries effort in WWII.   There in a hospital room she met the love of her life, a true Texan gentleman and married my grandfather.  Together they formed the perfect team and enjoyed over 50 years of marriage.  Mary decided she had worked long enough and stayed at home to raise 3 children (as though that isn’t work….).  To date she is locally known for the incredible garden she tends.  Her jellies, jams, juice, apple sauce, pickles, breads, pies and cookies have earned thousands of dollars that have been given to Christ Church missionary projects.  Her faith is the cornerstone of who she is and how she has lived her life. When I visited her days after her stroke, she reminded me she still had a Linus blanket to finish sewing, and a stuffed sock monkey to complete, "prior to checking out" (her words not mine!)  For over 35 years she has sewn hundreds of Linus Love Blankets (that are sent to children all over the world) supplied, packed and sewn "book bags" (for children throughout the world) and has collected thousands of box tops and Campbell Soup labels for Red Bird Missions.  This of course is in addition to her weekly giving and tithing.   Generosity wasn’t something she did out of obligation; it was just the right thing to do. PERIOD!  She would often say, "I am so blessed and fortunate to live in this country, how can I not help others who are less fortunate?” 

My grandma was a pioneer for women before it was politically correct, green before it was cool, and one  of the most generous people I know!  She is living proof of what it means to be a Hole in the Gospel!!!   

Kathryn Mary, Emma Kate & Mary Kathryn


JoAnna said...

What a beautiful, touching tribute to your grandma. Sounds like a truly amazing lady! God bless her!

Anonymous said...

What an amazing woman!