Back in January, I spent what ended up being my final weekend Grandma Lois. During those few days, three small moments stood out as being utterly significant.
We arrived for our stay thirty minutes ahead of my uncle who, for personal reasons, had not seen the family in a few years. Being in the late stages of her disease at the time, it was very rare for my grandmother to recognize anyone, even her own children at times, especially one she hadn’t seen in a few years.
The next day, in the afternoon, my grandmother woke up from a nap. “Hi Mom,” my uncle said with enthusiasm. My grandmother, who almost never spoke audible words at that point responded, “Hello there.” There was something in her tone that left no doubt that she knew exactly who she was looking at in that moment. She was looking at her son.
The second memory came later that day when I was left alone with my grandmother for a few hours. After a flourishing 35-year career in journalism, 13 of which she spent writing a weekly column for the Oxford Press entitled “Lines by Lois,” my grandmother had cultivated a significant body of work. In recent years, my mother and her sisters have compiled hundreds of these columns into three gigantic volumes. As I sat on the couch with her this past January, I began to read through my grandmother's articles chronicling, with great charm, a life that she could no longer recall. She could no longer engage in nostalgic conversations, but her voice was still alive through her writing.
The third moment I actually wasn’t present for. My mom told me the story of how at night, when my grandparents would lay down to go to sleep, they clung to one another like newlyweds. “In the mornings, before we get out of bed,” my grandpa said, “it’s like she’s her old self again. She's always flirting with me."
To me, these three moments are proof that the words of 1 John 4:18 are still true. Perfect love casts out all fear. The love that my grandmother had for her husband, children, and grandchildren, could not be stifled by the fear that comes with disease. In those little moments of recognition, love wins and sickness loses. The love my grandmother poured into each and every article she wrote not only is more powerful than a deteriorating brain, but it is more powerful than the grave as her words will live on forever, even after she is gone.
In loving memory of Lois Brown (1935-2014) “Say something nice...”