My grandmother, or “Mamaw”, as I called her, was the epitome of a strong woman. She raised eight children by herself in rural Kentucky while my grandfather came to Dayton to find work after serving in World War II. She would take her brood to church every Sunday. She never had a license to drive, so she would walk, her eight children walking in a line behind her as to not get in the way of the occasional oncoming vehicle. She was a faithful woman, her roots deep in religion. As a child I often went with her to different churches, and I saw where she got her strength.
Growing up I heard numerous stories of her life, everything from people taking advantage of her to her grief over my grandfather who died when I was seven years old. I’ve witnessed some of her own children disregard her, not because of anything that she did or didn’t do, but because of their own internal struggles and addictions. Through it all, she never gave up on them. She never stopped making attempts to be their stepping stone to a better life. And she never stopped telling them about her faith.
She didn’t have to tell anyone about her faith. It was more than apparent as to what kind of woman she was just upon meeting her. She was respected by everyone, and she touched the lives of everyone she met. She passed away on March 28, 2003, with her eight children, thirteen grandchildren, thirteen great grandchildren and her pastor surrounding her bedside. The day she passed was no doubt a sad day, but sadness is not what stands out the most for me. It was what she left behind. She wasn’t alone because of her faith. Her family surrounded her because of the unconditional love that she poured upon them. The goodness of her heart rubbed off on everyone because of her strength and her ability to keep looking up.
I believe in faith. With faith comes strength. With strength comes the ability to love unconditionally. With unconditional love comes forgiveness. And with all of these things coming from one core belief, everyone could improve their lives, if they just kept the faith.
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