His name is John Mark Bennett. He’s my great-grandfather.
He’s holding Helen Omega Bennett.
She’s my Grammy.
She was born 100 years ago today.
She was feisty.
She was beautiful.
She loved deeply.
She was determined.
She was intelligent.
She believed in righteousness.
She believed in justice.
She was hilarious!
She would laugh until she cried, and then she’d sigh and say, “Oh me!” shake her head and smile, and go on her way with a big smile on her face.
She could make just about anything grow.
She was a dedicated teacher – passionate that children be given every opportunity to learn!
She loved God with her whole heart – and dedicated each and every one of her days to be His first and foremost.
She listened to J. Vernon McGee on the radio pretty much every single morning.
She took great delight in every moment she got to spend with her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
She lived her life ready to meet her Maker and looked forward to that amazing Reunion in Heaven that was hers on June 23, 2006.
She was a history buff.
She loved a good comedy.
She loved a road trip!
She was an amazing artist – she loved to paint watercolors, draw, and sketch.
She was a quilter – and considered it a great privilege to finish some of the quilts that her own mother and grandmother had started.
She would take me into the department store when I was a little girl, tell me to point out a dress I particularly loved, she’d quickly sketch it, and then she’d go home and make it for me.
She had a love affair going on with the public library.
She was possibly the worst driver ever!
She literally DID hit the broad side of a barn.
The last time she drove – at age 93 – was memorable – to say the least!
She was granola way before it was cool to be granola.
She made the most amazing pot roast for Sunday dinner after church.
She ate things that would have killed someone with a weaker constitution!
She loved chocolate – and always had a stash.
She adored See’s chocolates.
She fell out of the apricot tree in her back yard and broke her leg – when she was in her 70’s.
She caught a line drive with her shin on recess duty while in her 60’s – and was in a cast for seemingly ages.
She taught summer school sometimes and I remember clearly getting to go with her and thinking I was the luckiest girl in the world.
She used to always make me a roast beef sandwich (from Sunday’s leftovers) on whole wheat bread with a little bit of mayo and a generous bit of mustard, always wrapped up in waxed paper when I’d go to summer school with her.
She LOVED Disneyland.
She LOVED to take her grandchildren to Disneyland.
She was faithful, available, and teachable – her entire life.
She was an amazing friend.
She had the most amazing memory – she could remember and recount for you things that she experienced as a very, very young girl.
She adored her Papa.
She had a particularly soft spot for her sister – 19 years her junior.
She treasured her nieces and nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews. Each a precious blessing to her heart.
She was fascinated by her own family history – and how her family was a part of the fabric of what made up this nation she loved so very deeply.
She was incredibly proud of her brother, the Ace who flew in WWII – for both the British and the US.
She was brave!
She packed her bags and climbed on a train in Arkansas and made her way to California, where she made a new life for herself.
She went back to college when her children were young and got her teaching degree – when it wasn’t so much the thing to do.
She didn’t love spiders.
She did love the first chocolate chip cookie out of the oven.
She was incredibly into politics.
She was one of those people you should NEVER begin a discussion on politics with!
She could get good and riled up – know the term “spitting nails” mad? Yeah – that mad.
She often sang while she painted or worked in the garden, or puttered around the house.
She loved hymns.
She had a beautiful singing voice.
She personally cared for my Grandfather through a long, very difficult illness.
She was never afraid of a challenge – and always willing to learn something new.
She taught me that even though reading was difficult for me to learn, that I could not only learn to do it – but to do so exceptionally well.
She taught me how to believe that I could do just about anything.
She encouraged me to set aside preconceived ideas and follow wherever my Savior would lead me.
She wrote me a letter once a week – for decades!
She LOVED to talk on the phone with me.
She told me – innumerable times – to NEVER settle for second best.
She always wanted to know what I was knitting or crocheting.
She encouraged me to pursue art – in whatever form brought joy to my heart.
She encouraged me to look at the people that God had placed in my life – to look around, and to choose to love. No matter what.
She believed that God appointed each and every day of each and every life and considered each and every person to be a gift from God.
She was little – less than 5 feet tall – but that never stopped her from accomplishing what she set out to do.
I miss her so.
She was one of my dearest friends – and well, still is.
I know – with absolute certainty – that she’s having the BEST time in Heaven. She used to tell me the stuff she wanted to ask about when she got there. And she had a few issues she wanted to discuss with God!
Until the day I die I will thank God for the incredible gift of my Grammy.
I will never forget the day – in 1985, shortly before my Grandfather died, and it seemed as if Grammy was killing herself taking care of him – asking God specifically to please – if I was ever to marry and have children – please, let my children know my Grammy.
I will praise Him for the fact that my children did not know her passingly – but knew her deeply.
I will forever treasure the memory in my mind’s eye of Grammy in her long flannel night gown at the kitchen table with the kids before school, reading the Bible story book to them, and praying for them before they started their day.
I will take up where she left off – praying for the generations that descend from her – that they will know God and love Him and commit to obey Him all the days of their lives.
I will ask God to help me to grow up to be like my Grammy – a woman of faith, a woman of integrity, a woman marked by a love that has nothing to do with myself – but everything to do with HIM.
And I will look forward to that day – whether He returns for his Bride, or He calls me home first – when after that first welcoming to the true HOME of my heart in the arms of Jesus, my Grammy will be there – ready to hug me, and kiss me, and will have an excited gleam in her eye – ready to show me the ropes of Heaven.