Today would have been my Nanna’s birthday. She died 11 years ago.
I don’t have any pictures of her. My Family has very few. My Nanna rarely had her picture taken. Apparently, she disliked it. And yet sometimes my memories of her are so vivid I wonder if I really need a picture. I still remember her beautiful smile and her blue eyes that sparkled when she was amused by something. She wasn’t given to streams of chatter, nor did she enjoy busy and loud areas. Her father was a Swede and her first name Olga, gave away her scandinavian heritage.
She loved spending time in her garden. Even in the months before she died, she was out there enjoying her roses. I remember roses were her favourite. And to this day, I can remember being awed by the exquisite colours that she had, and how they sparkled on dewy mornings with the sun shining on them. It was almost a place of solace for me. Standing in her rose garden.
And She treasured her family. She married fairly late in life (being in your 30s was late in the 1930s) and raised six children on a station in the outback with her husband (12 years her senior). When they moved to what is now My Uncle’s farm or ‘Up Home’, she continued to work hard at taking care of her children and helping to run the farm. The stories my mum tells of those days, often show my grandparents’ sense of humour and the simple faith they shared.
My Nanna wasn’t famous. She never wrote anything important. She didn’t create a new medicine, or invent new technology. She simply lived. And she loved. and she passed on to us tiny pieces of faith and life, in small ways.
I still have the Bible she gave to me when I turned 13, inscribed in her beautiful handwriting. And I have the Hymnal she gave me when I turned 18. In it she wrote: The voice of prayer is never silent, Nor dies the strand of praise away.
The day that she died, I had spent the whole night before crying and praying, begging God not to take my beloved Nanna, was a sunday in December. That morning they played the hymn ‘How deep the father’s love for us.’
Every time I hear it I think of her, and all that she taught me, sometimes I tear up. I think of the school concerts she came to. I think if the times we stayed with her when we were living in the country and came back to Perth on visits. I think of her quirky sense-of-humour. I think of how she loved foxes and pigs. I think of the cubby house we played in at her place. I think of the hallway and the huge bookshelf full of books and stories and other worlds. I think of how she did our hair one time (and it wasn’t very good), and how we used to nick strawberries from her strawberry plants.
And then I think of the words of the hymn by Stuart Townend.
How deep the father’s love for us
How vast beyond all measure
that he should give his only son
to make a wretch his treasure.
How great the pain of searing loss
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory
Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers
It was my sin that left Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished
I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection
Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom
And I’m thankful. For all the memories of her. how much she loved each of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
But mostly I’m thankful for God’s deep love that has ransomed us. Yes, I loved my grandmother. And she loved us. but it was only a mere reflection of His love.
A tiny taste of a future to come.
I love you Nanna. I miss you. But I’m glad I get to spend eternity with you praising our Lord.