Monday, November 17, 2014

Remembering Granny Mary: August 23, 1914 - November 3, 2014

Granny Mary Ready to Party for the 100th!
"Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways...With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation." (Psalm 91:9-11, Psalm 91:16, KJV)

On August 9, 2014, I, along with my family, church family, friends and staff, celebrated my grandmother's 100th birthday with her. Her actual birthday is August 23, but in order to have our East Coast family here, we decided to celebrate two weeks early. Her 99th birthday seemed so long ago, even though only a year had passed. This was probably because over the course of the next year, all I could think about was the upcoming milestone which would launch Granny into Centenarian status.

As we gathered to honor Granny, she enjoyed being celebrated and doted on, and even before everyone arrived, she was greeted by countless people wishing her a "Happy Birthday". She'd just grin and remark, "Yeah, baby, it's my birthday!"

All my life, everyone affectionately called my grandmother "Granny", even people who didn't know her directly, but through my siblings and me. To all of our friends, family, even my church family, she was "Granny".

The atmosphere was full of all the love one could imagine, as young and old gathered from across the country to be with Granny Mary, to sing with her, to eat with her and to share "Mary Hurst" stories with one another. It was a turnout that we couldn't even have imagined, and what a blessing and a joy to see the descendants of two of six siblings, Mary and Martha, in one room, some of us meeting for the very first time! God used several key people to help bridge the gap in our family. As those [key] people reached out to my great-aunt Martha's side, word of Granny's birthday celebration spread, and before we knew it, I was being introduced to even more cousins!

We celebrated for several hours, with Granny as the much-deserved center of attention, and throughout the day, I couldn't stop praising God (Psalm 150) for allowing us to see this day.

Two weeks after the big birthday party, Granny and I celebrated again with cake. Yes, Granny had cake twice! It was low-key. After the cake, I read the birthday cards and greetings to her, then called my sister and, putting her on the speakerphone, she and my older niece and Granny had their "Happy Birthday" song and chat. Granny even chimed in, singing "Happy Birthday" to herself along with them. Another beautiful day for our beautiful, blessed Granny.

On Monday, November 3, 2014, just before 9:00PM - two months, eleven days after her one hundredth birthday - the Lord called my grandmother home. He had fulfilled His promise, giving her long life, far beyond the "threescore years, and ten" of Psalm 90:10. She passed away peacefully, and the very angels of heaven carried her to be with our Savior, whom she had served faithfully since before I even existed.

For more than 25 years, Granny has been my purpose, something that God revealed to me just in the last two years or so. Thanksgivings and
Christmases, I enjoyed cooking and sharing holiday meals with her. Other times, she was my "McDonald's buddy", and even though the food wasn't the healthiest, it was what she loved, and I loved eating it with her, watching the joy on her face as she ate what she called "the best shoestring potatoes." I miss her infectious, high-pitched laugh, and singing with her, taking turns listening to each other. I miss the warmth of her hand as she held my hand to pray for me whenever it was time for me to end my visit with her. And I still hear her voice, telling me I'm her baby, as I reciprocated: "You're MY baby, Granny." "I'm YOUR baby?" she'd ask. "Yes, you're MY baby".

As I write this post, it still hasn't fully hit me that Granny is gone. My living room mantle and coffee table are still filled with cards of love and sympathy. The poster my sister and I made for the homegoing service is just a few feet away. I haven't yet started writing the many "Thank You" cards, and the song, "Grandma's Hands" by Take 6, which we included in Granny's service, plays over and over in my mind. 

For the past several years, I had tried to prepare for the inevitable - that Granny would one day depart, but in my selfishness, I quietly hoped for birthday number 101. Even at 100 years, two months, 11 days, I still wasn't ready to say good-bye. Yet my trust and hope is in the Lord (Jeremiah 17:7), and I know that Granny and I will see one another again.

"When I get to heaven, I'll look for Grandma's hands." (Take 6).

Granny, thank you for sharing your extraordinary life with me, and for showing me how to love unconditionally. Thank you for setting such a wonderful and Godly example. And thank you for your countless prayers, from your lips directly to the ears of our Savior, who always inclined His ear to hear (Psalm 86:1-17).

I love you. I miss you. You're still my baby.

Mary Ella Hurst
August 23, 1914 - November 3, 2014

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Granny Mary, the Beautiful and Blessed Centenarian!

“The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God.They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing;To shew that the Lord is upright: he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him." (Psalm 92:12-16)
I'm still in the process of writing this blog but couldn't wait any longer to post some pictures of my Granny. I'm also in need of approval to post pictures of family and friends who celebrated Granny's big day. Stay tuned for the full post!