The Week That Was: Part Two

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.

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6 Comments Add yours

  1. I know that Chuck was really sorry he couldn’t make it, work does not accept a surrogate grandma as immediate family, and they already had several people out of the office. Before you were even born your grandma took care of Chuck, she was his babysitter when grandma Watkins & Leanne had to work. Chuck tells me stories of the dinners at their house, the rabbits your grandpa raised, of the days at the county fair. Your grandparents left a special love in his heart for people that stood outside his immediate family circle but loved and cared for him like family anyway.

    1. Joe Watkins says:

      Chuck came up a lot last week. Seems like a lot of people know how special Grandma and Grandpa are to his growing up, which is awesome. It’s funny because I always heard stories about the time he spent there when I was growing up. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I’m sorry for your loss. My grandparents passed 15 years ago, so I haven’t had to process a close death as an adult. I pray you have peace.

    Though it was for a sad occasion, you were in my hometown. I live in Greenville. If you’re ever over here again let me know and we can get coffee or something.

    1. Joe Watkins says:

      Thanks for the prayer, I truly appreciate it.

      I’d be all for grabbing a cup of coffee. In fact I’ll be in Greenville tomorrow (10/27), but if that’s too soon I’ll let you know next time I’m that way and see if we can work something out. My grandpa’s living at the Brethren’s Home there and I’m hoping to be over to see him more.

      1. What time? I work 8-5. The only time I could meet would be early morning, which I’m guessing wouldn’t work on your end.

      2. noggingrande says:

        Oh yeah, I sometimes forget that people tend to have jobs and the such during the day. Thanks for the invite though, I’ll shoot you a message next time I’m in town and see if it will work.

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