I was about age seven or eight when my Grandma Barrett (my mom’s mom) still lived on The Farm. Grandpa Barrett had died before I was born, so Gramma lived in the quaint old house, and tried to maintain the timeworn place as best she could.
Due to her gentle manner and loving ways, Gramma was my favorite! She consistently wore an apron over her dress, and seemingly her soft, silky white hair was forever pulled back into a small bun at the nape of her neck. She rarely conveyed her love verbally, yet I always sensed her love and assuredly knew her acceptance.
My mom would occasionally drive out to visit her. While there my older brother Dan and younger brother Larry and I would help with various age-appropriate chores. Often on these visits my Gramma would ask me to gather eggs for her from the chicken coop. On this particular occasion, I invited my little brother to join me. Only eighteen months younger than me, Larry was always my willing partner in whatever mischief I conceived.
The sun was bright and the morning held great promise, as we skipped toward the chicken coop to gather the eggs. After we filled our basket with both brown and white eggs, I suddenly had a brilliant brainstorm; and without any forethought I called out…
“C’mon Lar, I have a great idea! Let’s take these eggs and do something fun with them. I know Gramma won’t mind.”
Innocent and unaware of the foolishness of this scheme, my little brother cheerfully followed me through the door and around the corner to the back of the chicken coop. Positioning ourselves a few feet away from the wall, I grabbed an egg from the basket, wound up like a professional pitcher and sent the first of multiple eggs slamming into the wall. The wide-eyed look on my brother’s face revealed what a jolt my behavior was to him!
“Here, you try it,” I said, handing him a large, brown, already-cracked egg.
Hesitantly he took the egg from my hand and timidly flung it toward the wall. When his egg hit the mark, I giggled and clapped as if he had accomplished some amazing feat. From that point on, we lost ourselves in the delight of seeing the bright yellow yokes slither down into a gooey mess clustered at the base of the building.
Finishing our childish exploit we merrily headed back to the house with no conscious thought of the possibility of impending trouble. I set the empty basket on the table and looked up to see my grandma eying the basket — and us.
She quietly, but firmly asked, “Cheri’ where are the eggs?”
“Ummmm, there weren’t any this morning,” I replied, feeling immensely guilty as I said it.
“What? Did another weasel get in with the chickens? I better go see what happened.”
Wiping her hands on her red and white checkered apron, she vanished out the back door, crossed the sandy yard and disappeared into the hen house. Larry and I stood on our tiptoes and numbly peered through the screen door. In an instant, she flew out the coop door and began inspecting the sides. We watched dumbfounded, as she disappeared behind the building; and our hearts sank as we realized the discovery she was about to make.
Knowing it would be unwise to hide from her, we sat down at the old-fashioned, white-painted table and hung our heads hoping our look of remorse might soften her heart. Neither of us looked up as we heard the creak of the antique kitchen door and her soft footsteps approaching. The sound of her voice was strange, as she spoke.
“Look at me, you two,” she said.
We slowly lifted our eyes, and as our gaze met hers, we sensed a tiny glimmer of hope, for her eyes were laughing even though her voice was stern.
“Did you throw the eggs against the back of the chicken coop?”
“Yes, Ma’am,” we haltingly replied.
“What on earth possessed you to do such a thing?” She said, with a tiny bit of a smile on her lips.
I wanted to say, “Because it was fun!” But remained silent and hung my head once again. With my eyes downcast, I noticed movement beside me. I glanced up, to see my brother’s grubby little index finger shakily pointing toward me and I heard his shy, sweet voice say, “I…it was all her idea.”
I snapped my head up, momentarily glared at him, and then met her gaze to see if she believed him.
“Well, I…. I just thought it would be fun…”, I said, trying to sound very repentant.
Suddenly, her half-smirk, half-frown exploded into uncontainable laughter as she placed her arms around both of us. Her body shook as she continued chuckling.
After regaining her composure, I remember she talked firmly to me about never doing such a thing again, but her moist eyes, loving arms and bubbling laughter left me feeling understood. Her response dissolved my fear of punishment and extended to me a great sense of love, acceptance and forgiveness.
When I recall this and similar incidents, I have to conclude, Gramma was my special gift from God! She seemed to always understand my mischievous heart and yet found joy in who I was. She had the ability to look past my behavior and see me!
Today I thank God for my Gramma — her unconditional love marked my life and opened the door, so God could later reveal to me His amazing love!