I wish I had a photo of my grandmother that matches the way I remember her…
We lived hours (when we were really little it felt like interminable numbers thereof) away from her house. We knew we were close when the smell of the dust creeping into the car changed… We lived in the dark rich soil in the cotton belt, near the Brazos river, and she lived across the Red River in Oklahoma border in wheat country. It didn’t matter what time we arrived, or whether we came in through the garage or the gate around the side of the yard, the back door would swing open and Oma would come out with arms wide open in welcome. And the smell of freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies would follow her.
I learned a lot from my Oma – how to write more neatly, how to use all the cool Wilton cake decorating tools, who Lawrence Welk was. Most importantly, I learned what it meant to be steadfast. I could count on Oma to love me, to pray for me, to read with me. When I was in high school, she began to show signs of dementia. We would stay at her house and go visit her in the assisted living facility. It was weird. And sometimes we would make cookies just so that it well and truly felt like Oma’s house.
Forever and always in my mind, she welcomes us on the back porch. Arms open, ready to fold us into an embrace.
And that is what I imagine she saw when she was welcomed across the threshold from this life into God’s presence. An arms-wide-open welcome to a weary traveler. A squeeze that says “I know you, precious one.” The welcome that we are called to embody in this “are we there yet” version of God’s Kingdom. Always and forever.