Creating A Welcome Place to Be and to Be Known
As I sat in the Wayne Hospital ICU, literally waiting for my Grandma to take her last breath, I did what I would imagine might come naturally. I began to search my mind for memories.
I quickly realized I had relatively few memories of my Grandma Nichols. I spent far more time with her when I was younger, and I wondered if that meant I had lost out on a treasure trove of memories with which I could celebrate her life.
In a real way I probably have.
But what I realized through the week, as family members and friends came together to remember her life and recall their memories of her, was that my memories might not have been about her, but they were certainly a direct result of who she was. You see while I don’t have a lot of “Joe & Grandma” stories to tell, I have an entire reservoir of joy that flows from thoughts of being at the home that she and Grandpa shared.
I can walk through the house and tell you what everything looks like. I can remember the sounds of the Gene Autry Christmas albums playing on their Hi-Fi and the tastes of shredded coconut kept in the little green tupperware cup in the fridge. I can feel the cold of frozen strawberries and the warmth of a place where I remember always feeling welcome and at home.
What I learned through the course of the week was that this wasn’t something unique to the experience of a grandson. Story after story, all seemed to revolve around people’s experiences of Grandma’s hospitality and desire to create such a welcoming atmosphere.
People talked about the gaggle of children who would spill out all over the floor of the living room, laughing and snacking and having fun.
People described the atmosphere she and Grandpa created each season as they would remake their Sunday School room over with handmade decorations.
My mom describe the bountiful spread of Christmas cookies that were an annual tradition, and revealed why she goes to such lengths each year to fatten us up with cookies galore even when she’s worn out in the process.
It’s about hospitality. It’s about making people feel at home. It’s about creating an environment where people feel welcomed to be who they are and are invited to enjoy their time there. It’s what I want to take away from Grandma’s passing and carry on, and hopefully others will know the love of Christ because they’ve experienced an atmosphere of hospitality that stays with them long after all other memories have faded.