Tuesday, November 14, 2006


A few weeks ago, after a long illness, Thedford Dirkse, the husband of my maternal grandmother ("Great Ted," the kids called him), joined the Church triumphant.

The days surrounding his death I spent with family -- especially with my Grandma. The funeral was really quite good (a solid sermon, a comforting prayer, and dixie-land trumpet playing "When the Saints Come Marching In"). And there was something fitting about the cold fall day we interred his body; after the morning ceremony, I worked the rest of the day in the yard, putting other things in the ground in hope of new life in the not-so-distant future.

We know God works all things for good -- and one good thing to come from Ted's death is that we are spending lots of time these days with Grandma. She comes for dinner at least once a week, and we get to see her some weekends, too. She is a lively conversationalist, a wise and godly woman, and she enjoys rather than shuns the sometimes...shall we say... vigorous sociability of the children.

I was thinking about what a great woman she is when I remembered a piece Debra wrote 15 years ago (the last time I was in grad school!) for a Princeton Seminary community publication called Testament. It's about grandmothers -- Debra's own, and the two she inherited when she married me. I looked it up in our files, and thought it deserved to see the light of day again, in honor of one great Grandma. (Click on the thumbnails for a readable size .jpg file.)

My one ambition for my old age is to be a church lady. Not the kind who has turned bitter, complaining, and judgmental, but the kind who has grown nearer to wisdom and peace. I will be the lady in the same pew (or whatever we sit on by then) every Sunday, and I'll know all the little kids' names. I'll show up at the potlucks and volunteer to tutor the neighborhood kids. I'll sing loudly even though the people standing around me will secretly wish I had retired my voice years ago. Mostly I will pray, pray for people even when they haven't asked for prayer.
-- Debra Rienstra, So Much More, p. 181

1 comment:

Mary said...

So beautiful.

I had dinner with your Gram at the Dershem's last week. Pretty impressive woman; so honest with her grief, honest about her life.

And yes, her love for kids is without end and her tolerance for their zeal is impressive...especially when you consider that she's 94!

I want to be an old church lady someday, too.